This case involved the tragic death of Lilly Duncan. Ms. Duncan, age 31, was killed by a drunk driver in a head-on collision on I-25 at approximately 11:40 p.m. on May 14, 2011. Ms. Duncan left behind a 12 year old daughter who was orphaned by the accident, having lost her father several years before. The drunk driver entered I-25 using an off-ramp, and then began driving southbound in the northbound lanes of traffic. Eventually, the drunk driver collided head-on into Ms. Duncan’s vehicle.
The drunk driver’s blood alcohol content was measured as .219 which is almost three times the limit for DUI in Colorado. Before getting behind the wheel, the drunk driver had attended a theme party at a local bar not too far from where the tragic accident took place. Based on this evidence, we brought claims against the bar in addition to the drunk driver under Colorado’s dram shop statute, which makes bars and restaurants legally liable if they knowingly serve an intoxicated person.
Throughout the civil lawsuit, the drunk driver invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and refused to give a deposition or provide any evidence. Her strategy required us to develop evidence in the civil case by working with the Denver District Attorney’s office and the Denver Police Department as they worked to prosecute the criminal case.
In June, 2012, a Denver District Court jury found the drunk driver guilty of vehicular homicide, DUI and assault. In August, the driver was sentenced to 10 years in prison followed by five years of parole. In October, after over a year of litigation and multiple depositions in the civil case, the insurance companies for the driver and the bar opted to settle for confidential amounts.