Hall v. Torero’s II, Inc.: Drunken Driving, Bar Liability, and the Quest for Safer Roadways

BY Fitz E. Barringer

Tragedy can strike in the blink of an eye. For Michael and Theresa Hall, tragedy struck at approximately 10:40 p.m. on December 3, 1997. That evening the couple was driving on Guess Road in Durham, less than a mile from Torero’s, a local Mexican bar and restaurant. Unbeknownst to them, William Terry, an admitted alcoholic, was driving in the opposite direction. Terry had spent the evening at Torero’s consuming numerous drinks over the course of the night. By 10:30 p.m.—some five hours after he first arrived at the bar—patrons and the bartender raised questions among one another about Terry’s ability to drive, but when an obviously intoxicated Terry stumbled out of Torero’s, keys in hand, no one stood in his way. Just minutes later, Terry’s Jeep swerved across the centerline and collided with the Halls’ Toyota Corolla. Michael died within minutes of the collision; Theresa sustained serious injuries and was pinned in the vehicle until rescue crews arrived. Authorities later determined that Terry’s blood alcohol content at the time he left Torero’s would have been 0.20—about two-and-a-half times the legal limit. For the Hall family, an intoxicated driver had changed their lives in an instant.

DOWNLOAD PDF | 88 N.C. L. Rev. Addendum 22 (2010)