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Utah Music Venue Sued Over DUI Death

By Aditi Mukherji, JD | Last updated on

The mother of a Utah man killed in a DUI crash is suing a Salt Lake City-area music venue for at least $1 million, claiming bartenders over-served her son at a Megadeth concert.

Tanya Wallace of West Jordan, Utah, brought the suit after her son Joshua died in a crash after leaving the Great Saltair, a concert venue on the shore of the Great Salt Lake.

Wallace alleges that Great Saltair employees violated state dram shop liability laws and could have prevented her son's death.

Megadeth Disaster

Joshua Wallace, 22, and his friend Jacob C. Jensen, 28, allegedly smoked marijuana and had blood alcohol levels nearly three times the legal limit, reports The Salt Lake Tribune.

When the post-Megadeth concert crowd was growing rowdy and violent, the two left the scene. Jensen got behind the wheel and Wallace passed out in the backseat. Jensen ultimately lost control of the truck and crashed; Wallace died at the scene.

Dram Shop Liability?

Tanya Wallace's case stems from Utah's liquor liability laws and the responsibility of establishments that serve alcohol for subsequent accidents caused by their drunken patrons.

In Utah, a licensed drinking establishment can potentially be held liable for alcohol-related injuries if:

  • It served a minor or a person who was already apparently under the influence of alcohol or drugs,
  • The person served becomes intoxicated, and
  • The person either gets injured or injures someone else.

Here, Wallace claims Saltair was responsible for her son's wrongful death because it allegedly over-served the men and failed to secure the parking lot afterward, reports The Tribune.

As her suit alleges, "Even though Jensen and [Wallace] were visibly intoxicated, Saltair employees continued to provide alcohol."

Damages Cap

Utah limits dram shop liability damages to $500,000 per person and $1 million per occurrence. However, the dram shop statute does not preclude any other cause of action or additional recovery against the person who allegedly caused the injury.

In this case, Wallace is seeking at least $1 million in punitive damages that stem from the dram shop statute in addition to other causes of action, reports the Tribune.

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