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Bars Sued in Melissa Marvin Case

Should Have Known She Was Drunk, Lawsuits Claim Two bars that served alcohol to a driver in a high-profile drunk driving fatality case are being sued by the families of the four teens who were killed in the North Carolina crash.

The lawsuits claim that the bartenders and bars were negligent and reckless because they knew or should have known that Melissa Marvin was drunk when she was sold the drinks and would drive a vehicle after being served.

Marvin, who was 29 at the time of the incident, was sentenced to 60 years in prison after a trial the drew national attention due to its CourtTV Coverage.

On April 6, 1999, Marvin slammed her Mitsubishi Montero into a Chevrolet Cavalier carrying five 17-year-old friends. Megan Blong, Amanda Geiger and Angie McGrady, all from New Jersey, were killed instantly. Shana Lawler of North Carolina was thrown out the back window and died six days later. Michael Horner of New Jersey was severely injured but survived.

Twice convicted for drunk driving offenses, the 30-year-old waitress downed three shots of booze at one bar and two margarita "grandes" at another, got in her SUV, sped through traffic changing lanes frequently with her left foot up on the dashboard, ran a red light and plowed into a small car carrying five teen-agers, killing four of them, according to court records.

Repeat Offender

In the aftermath of the collision, described as sounding like an explosion, Marvin at the scene asked repeatedly about the condition of her dog who was riding in the vehicle with her and never once inquired about the victims in the other car.

An "experienced" DUI offender, Marvin at the hospital tried to cover up the amount of alcohol that she had consumed and refused to provide a urine sample, instead pulling up her dress and urinating on the emergency room stretcher. A court-ordered blood test two hours after the accident indicated a blood alcohol content of .21, putting it at an estimated .28 at the time of the crash.

The families of Blong, Geiger, Lawler and Horner filed a lawsuit in Dare County NC Superior Court against Tortuga's Lie Shellfish Bar & Grille and Mulligan's Oceanfront Grille, both in Nags Head NC, and their corporations, owners and the bartenders who served Marvin.

The McGrady family filed a separate lawsuit in U.S. District Court, naming the same parties as defendants. Marvin also was named as a defendant in both actions.

In North Carolina, it is against the law to knowingly give or sell alcohol to an intoxicated person. But if the person does not look or act drunk, the server is not liable under the law. The district attorney's office announced in June that it would not pursue criminal charges against the bars or the bartenders because it could not be established that anyone knew that Marvin was intoxicated.

"They suffered a significant loss in their life, and they're entitled to receive adequate compensation for that," an attorney in the case told reporters. "If this lawsuit is successful, it might prevent someone else from being killed."

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