The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

November 15, 2012

Admitted drunk driver sues bar for serving her

By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer

WEST MIDDLESEX — A Masury woman who admitted she was drunk when she crashed her car in 2009 has sued Middlesex Tavern saying bar employees should not have served her.

Ruth D. Morocco, 478 Lucy St., alleged negligence under the Dram Shop Law for serving a visibly intoxicated patron against Middlesex Tavern Inc., 3452 Sharon Road, West Middlesex; DJB Development LP, owner of the property; and DJB Development Inc., general partner of the owner.

Morocco filed notice of the suit April 21, 2011, but did not file her complaint until Sept. 27.

She said she drank in the bar April 23, 2009, into April 24, 2009, fell off her chair, was loud and obnoxious and spilled at least one drink on the bar, all within sight of employees.

She left the bar at about 2 a.m., she said, and crashed her car into a ditch and several trees along New Castle Road at Pulaski Road, Shenango Township, said Southwest Mercer County Regional Police, who were called at 2:15 a.m.

Morocco said her right knee and ankle were broken in the crash and the injures “are or may be permanent in nature.” She is seeking unspecified money for loss of earnings and the “ordinary pleasures of life, anguish, pain, and other suspected injuries.

In their answer filed Nov. 5, the defendants denied any liability and disputed her description of events.

 The defendants said bar employees are not allowed to serve visibly intoxicated patrons.

Morocco entered the bar at about 10 p.m. April 23, 2009, with another woman and each ordered one drink, the defendants said.

Morocco entered the ladies room and stayed there for about 20 minutes. When she came out, she appeared to be under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, the defendants said.

Morocco ordered a drink but the bartender denied the request, the defendants said. She told the bartender that the other woman was the designated driver, and the woman confirmed she would drive Morocco home, the defendants said.

The two women left the bar together, the defendants said.

Police obtained video footage from a West Middlesex business that showed Morocco in the parking lot of the business at 1:48 a.m. and getting onto a car with assistance from a woman at 1:54 a.m., the defendants said.

Morocco returned to the tavern about a month later and “boasted to another patron ... about how quickly she was healing,” the defendants said.

She also wrote on her bail sheet at her arraignment on drunken driving charges that she had no physical handicaps, the defendants said.

The defendants alleged in a three-count new matter that Morocco was aware of the risks of drunken driving and suffered injuries as a result of her own negligence. The alcohol served her at the tavern “was not a direct and proximate cause of any injuries,” the defendants said.

Morocco, 53, formerly of Shenango Township, pleaded guilty in 2010 to a charge of drunken driving-first offense, for having a blood-alcohol level of 0.3 percent, which is nearly four times the legal limit. She was sentenced to 3 days in jail - which she served on house arrest - followed by 177 days’ probation and still is paying off the $1,000 fine and costs.