HARPSWELL, Maine — A Harpswell lobsterman injured in a crash with a drunken driver has narrowed his lawsuit to that driver and three businesses he claims served or sold alcohol to an intoxicated person.
The conflict hinges on questions about who should shoulder blame — and financial responsibility — for a crash that likely will deprive the lobsterman of his livelihood.
Samuel Desjardins, 40, who in March sued the driver and five Brunswick businesses he claimed served or sold alcohol to her that night, has dropped two of the local bars from the suit after determining “they conducted due diligence” and did not serve her that day.
Desjardins suffered significant injuries the afternoon of Jan. 6, 2015, when his 2001 GMC pickup truck was struck on Cundy’s Harbor Road in Harpswell by a 2002 Chevrolet pickup truck driven by Cynthia L. Moody, 52, of Harpswell.
Moody’s vehicle crossed the centerline, police said at the time.
Desjardins was taken to Maine Medical Center that night. Portland attorney Benjamin Gideon said in March that his client suffered permanent injuries — “it is unlikely he’ll ever work again at his profession.”
According to a statement from Gideon and co-counsel Dov Sacks, Moody’s blood-alcohol level was more than three times the legal limit.
Moody pleaded guilty in November 2015 in Cumberland County Superior Court to operating under the influence and Class B felony aggravated assault in connection with the crash. She was sentenced to five years in prison with all but 20 months suspended. She is incarcerated at the Maine Correctional Center in Windham and is eligible for release in March 2017.
In March, Desjardins filed suit in Cumberland County Superior Court, seeking damages from Moody, as well as from Cumberland Farms, Byrnes Irish Pub, Raven’s Roost and the parent companies of Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar on Gurnet Road and Winner’s Sports Grill on Farley Road.
Citing Maine’s Liquor Liability Act, Desjardins’ attorneys allege that each establishment knew or should have known that Moody would pose a danger to others because she would be driving and that the collision was a result of negligence and recklessness of employees of each business.
The suit seeks damages including “several hundred thousand dollars” for extensive past medical expenses, as well as future medical and life needs, lost earnings and pain, suffering and emotional distress.
Gideon said Moody’s insurance policy — “not a large policy” — has already paid the maximum.
Gideon said in the initial complaint that attorneys believed Moody was drinking in “at least one and possibly several of the establishments” named as defendants.
On Aug. 2, Byrnes Irish Pub and Applebees were dropped from the suit, though Gideon said Thursday they were dismissed “without prejudice” so they could be added back to the complaint if evidence contradicts their testimony.
The suit continues against Sagtuck, Inc., doing business as Winner’s Sports Grill, Ravens Roost and Cumberland Farms.
Moody’s attorney, Matthew Libby, said Thursday that his client does not dispute that she was negligent or that her actions caused Desjardins’ injuries.
“She takes full responsibility for the accident,” Libby said. “This case is about whether and to what extent other parties may be liable under Maine law.”
According to court documents, Winner’s, Ravens Roost and Cumberland Farms denied responsibility and allege that, among other causes, the crash and resulting injuries were caused by Desjardins’ own negligence and “independent and/or intervening events over which [the defendant] had no control.”
Desjardins’ attorneys said Friday that they continue to depose employees of the three businesses and expect the case to go to trial in mid-2017.