Jurors in the civil case stemming from a 2012 drunken driving crash that killed a Dallas Cowboys player say his best friend and the now-defunct bar they visited are equally responsible for his death and have awarded his mother $25 million.
On Dec. 8, 2012, Josh Brent and Jerry Brown Jr, best friends and teammates with the Cowboys, left the Beamers nightclub in Brent’s Mercedes. Brent, who was driving, rolled the car while driving 110 mph in Irving a few minutes after leaving the club.
Brent's BAC that night was .189 — more than two times the legal limit. Brown's family sued the bar visited by Brent and Brown, saying they were overserved, and named Brent a party to the lawsuit.
Under a Texas law, known commonly as the "Dram Shop Act," a business that sells and/or serves alcohol can be liable for any damages or injuries that occur if it's proven they provided alcohol to an "obviously intoxicated" person.
After deliberating about five hours Thursday, jurors decided Beamers and Brent were each 48 percent responsible for the fatal crash and that Brown was 4 percent responsible for his own death.
Brown's mother, Stacy Jackson, was awarded $25 million in the civil suit; the lawsuit had sought up to $95 million in damages, mostly from the bar.
"I can't be more grateful or thankful and I'm sure Jerry's looking down and happy," Jackson said. "It weighs on my heart because you dont want no other family to go through what I have been through ... because, you know, us as parents we prepare our children for us passing away you dont prepare yourself for seeing them going before you."Lawyers for Brown’s family and his estate told the jury that Beamers should have done more to monitor how much Brent was drinking before he got behind the wheel.
Testimony during the trial pointed to surveillance video inside Beamers and to liquor bottles on the table. Lawyers questioned how much Brent may have served himself when he and other teammates partied together with bottle service.
“It’s not enough to say we close our eyes, we did not see anything else,” said Charla Aldous, attorney for the plaintiff. “No, it is your duty to monitor.”
The defense, representing the bar, argued Brent was not obviously drunk at Beamers and was not illegally over-served by the staff. The defense told the jury that Brent is the person responsible for Brown’s death.
Brent was in court one day to offer testimony. He is also listed as a defendant in the case. Monday, he told the jury Jackson has forgiven him and they remain close. He did not mount a defense in the civil trial. He testified he could not afford to bring an attorney.