Bar Owner Pays $1M In Drunk Driving Case

Drunk Driver Was Below Legal Drinking Age

POSTED: 4:21 p.m. HST December 5, 2002

HONOLULU -- Two Honolulu bars are paying the family of a woman killed by a drunk driver $1 million to settle a lawsuit.

The family's lawyer said the bars failed to check the identification of the underage driver and repeatedly served him drinks, even though he was obviously drunk.

Anti-drunk driving activists said this case should serve as a warning to drivers, bars and restaurants.

In January 2001, Kam Williams, 19, was heading home from a night of drinking when his car crossed the centerline of a highway in Waimanalo and struck a Honda. The crash killed Lorrie-Ann Wiley, 32, who was on her way to work as a supply clerk at the Hawaii Air National Guard.

She was survived by her daughter, Kayla, and husband, David.

"The bars and the clubs that directly contribute, especially to the underage drinkers, should maybe be held criminally accountable for the DUI fatalities that happen all the time," Wiley's husband David Wiley said.

The Wiley's lawyers said Williams began his night at Venus Nightclub just before midnight, where he drank at least three Long Island ice teas. At about 1:30 a.m., lawyers said, he stumbled a few doors down to Pachinko Karaoke where he drank until at least 4 a.m. before driving home.

"No amount of money, no amount of sentencing, no amount of anything can ever bring your loved-one back. When they're gone, they're gone," said Yvonne Nelson of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

The Wiley family's lawyers went after the man who owns both bars because witnesses said they kept serving him drinks even though he was obviously drunk and because they never asked for his identification. At 19 years old, Williams wasn't old enough to drink legally.

"We are really very upset with the bars," attorney Rick Fried said. "We have rules that say you're not to drink until you're 21 because they recognize you're not (able) to drink until you're 21 because they recognize that people under 21 don't have the judgment that adults have."

Lawyers said the bars and their owner had no major assets so they went after their liquor liability insurance, getting $1 million to settle the case.

"The only real avenue of assets here was the liquor liability coverage on the bars. Unfortunately, in our view, it didn't begin to compensate what the civil result would have been," Fried said.