« Ind. Gov't. - Suggestions for the new legislative leadership - Part I: The Video Archives | Main | Ind. Courts - More winners and losers at the local level »

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Ind. Decisions - Report on reversal of $39 million Outback verdict

Nick Werner of the Muncie Star-Press reports this morning on the Supreme Court's decision yesterday:

MUNCIE -- The Indiana Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered a retrial in a lawsuit against Outback Steakhouse that resulted in a $39 million civil judgment in favor of a Muncie couple.

David and Lisa Markley sued the restaurant after they were severely injured when their motorcycle was struck by a motorist on July 21, 1997.

The couple alleged that William Whitaker, Albany, became intoxicated at the grand opening party for Outback's Muncie restaurant, where drinks were served free or for as little as a dime each.

A Delaware Circuit Court 1 jury in June 2003 found in favor of the Markleys and ordered the restaurant to pay them $39 million.

The Supreme Court issued a ruling today, however, that attorneys for the Markleys -- Michael J. "Mick" Alexander and Donald McClellan -- had failed to notify Outback's attorneys about the planned testimony of a critical witness before the trial, an omission that constituted misconduct and warranted a new trial.

That witness, former Outback server Patrice Roysdon, eventually testified Whitaker was visibly drunk at Outback, changing her account of the evening from an earlier deposition.

Efforts to contact attorney Alexander for comment on Wednesday were unsuccessful.

A new trial has not been scheduled.

Whitaker pleaded guilty in 1999 to two counts of failure to stop after an accident resulting in serious injury, a class D felony, and served a three-year sentence that combined home detention and probation.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on November 9, 2006 11:04 AM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions