Ron Campbell’s “The Case of the Devastating Drunk” (ARE Ag Business Law) @ NC State


Step towards the side of the car. Foot in.
Watch your head. This is State Superior Court and I’m Kelly
Andrews reporting for Wolfpack Reality TV. The dispute today will be handled in civil
court where the defendants if found responsible will be required to pay just monetary compensation
to the plaintiffs. Since the defendants do not have any criminal charges being brought
against them today, they are not facing any prison sentences. Both parties attempted mediation,
however, it failed and that neither side could agree. They have waited two years for this
case to come to trial. We now enter the courtroom where the bailiff is opening the proceedings.
All rise. Oh yea, oh yea, oh yea. The Superior Court for the District of Wolfpack is now
open for the regular dispatch of business. The honorable Thomas J. Dimmock, present and
presiding, please draw near and be attentive. Ladies and gentlemen, please be seated. Good
morning ladies and gentlemen, the jury, I appreciate you coming this morning. I realize
with all the construction downtown, it’s a hassle finding a parking spot and I appreciate
you bearing with us. I want to remind you again as I’ve told you yesterday that you’re
not to discuss this case with anybody else or any other jury member or anyone else until
you’ve heard all the evidence and heard the arguments of counsel and my instructions.
Till that time, just refrain from talking about this case. Once everything has concluded,
you’ll be excused to the jury room and at that point, you can freely discuss the case
among yourselves. Are there any motions from the plaintiff?
No, your Honor. Any motions from the defendant?
No, your Honor. And very well, and plaintiff may begin their
case. Your Honor, the plaintiff has called the defendant
Lori Anderson to the stand. Raise your right hand and repeat after me.
Do you solemnly swear or affirm to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the
truth, so help you. I swear.
Please have a seat. State your name for the record please.
My name is Lori Anderson. And Ms. Anderson, where are you employed?
I am– Or are you working today?
I’m not working. I don’t have a job. I live with relatives.
And have you ever been married? Three times?
Are you currently married? I’m divorced and looking for work. I’m not
doing too well. Are you finding any work?
No. I saw a lawyer about filing for bankruptcy but I didn’t even have enough money to do
that. Ms. Anderson, how do you know the two plaintiffs?
Do I have to answer that? Yes, you do.
I had an accident that was my fault. Mr. Edward’s car was totaled, his daughter Susie Edwards
was injured. At the time of this accident, were you working?
Yes. And who are you working for?
Dale Lawson, the owner of Lawson Landscaping. Is Dale Lawson in this courtroom?
He’s sitting right there. Your Honor, would you please have Dale Lawson
stand. Mr. Lawson, would you please stand.
When did you go to work for Lawson Landscaping? The Monday before the accident.
What was your job at Lawson Landscaping? I drove the company pickup truck to make deliveries
to all the landscaping job sites. Now, when you went to work for Lawson Landscaping,
were you asked to sign anything? Yes. I was asked to sign a paper saying that
I wasn’t suppose to drink on the job or do anything like that and I wasn’t supposed to
break any traffic laws. Permission to approach the witness, your Honor.
Granted. I now hand you a document previously marked
as plaintiff exhibit number 1, do you recognize it?
Yeah, it’s the letter of employment I signed my first day.
Thank you. Thank you.
Your Honor, I like to introduce into evident plaintiff exhibit number 1.
Any objection? No objections, your Honor.
No, your Honor. So received.
Thank you. Would you please read this document for the
court today? Says at the top, Letter of Employment. The
employee of Lawson Landscaping Lori Anderson agrees that while she is at work and on duty,
she will not consume alcohol, smoke marijuana or use illegal drugs. At all times, she will
operate the company pickup in a safe manner. Lori Anderson will obey all of the traffic
laws of the state. It’s dated and signed by both myself and Dale Lawson.
Ms. Anderson, what date was the document signed? Monday the 15th.
What day was the accident? Friday, the 19th. Four days later.
Thank you. And when did you get paid?
That Friday. I met Dale at bank and signed the check and took my cash to go have lunch.
Where did you have lunch? Tater’s Bar has lunch specials if you sit
at the bar. And do you remember what you had for lunch
that day? I wasn’t very hungry. I was thirsty though,
so I had a couple three beers. Did you happen to meet anyone while you were
there at the bar? I met Tom, a truck driver. We had a couple
more drinks and decided that after he had some deliveries to make, we head back to my
place. I also had a couple more deliveries to make myself. He’s planning to come to my
apartment later. I never did get to eat lunch. No further questions.
You may cross examine this witness. Are you doing anything today about your drinking?
I was thinking about going to AA for alcoholics. But with no car, I have to walk those places.
No further questions, your Honor. All right, call your next witness. You may
be excused.Your Honor, we call Dale Lawson of Lawson Landscaping.
Mr. Lawson. Raise your right hand and repeat after me.
Do you solemnly swear or affirm to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the
truth, so help you? I swear.
Please be seated. Please identify yourself.
I’m Dale Lawson of Lawson Landscaping. Mr. Lawson, how many people do you employ
at your company? I’m a one man operation, I do hire day help
on a seasonal basis.How do you know Lori Anderson? I hired her.
Did you write the employment letter? Yes, I did.
Permission to approach, your Honor.You may. Thank you. Mr. Lawson, I show you this document
previously identified as plaintiff exhibit number 1. For the record, have you signed
this document? Yes, I signed it.
Mr. Lawson, was it important to you and your company to hire someone that did not have
a drinking problem? Yes.
Did you see Lori Anderson’s driver’s license before hiring?
I really don’t remember. Would you be surprised to learn that her driver’s
license had been revoked? Your Honor, I’d like to request that you would
instruct the witness to speak audibly and also note for the record that his answer to
the previous question was no. Yes, this is being recorded and so it’s important
that you speak audibly so the transcript will pick that up.
Yes, sir. Would you be surprised to learn that she has
been convicted of a driving while impaired charge?
No. Would you be surprised to learn that Ms. Anderson
had been convicted of a second driving while impaired charge?
No. Mr. Lawson, would you be surprised to learn
that Ms. Anderson has been convicted of a third driving while impaired charge?
No. Would you be surprised to learn that Ms. Anderson
has been convicted of a fourth driving while impaired charge?
I honestly had no clue she had four DWIs. Mr. Lawson, did you even check her driver’s
license or asked for one? No.Mr. Lawson, what would happen if Ms. Anderson
drank on the job? Well, I’d fire her on the spot.
No further questions, your Honor. You may cross examine this witness.
Why did you not find out about Lori Anderson’s driving record?
Well, you know I was really busy that morning and she seem like a fairly competent person,
you know. She looked–She looked better than the other people that had applied for the
job. No further questions.
You may reexamine the witness. No redirect, your Honor.
OK, you may be excused. Call your next witness. Thank you.
The plaintiffs call Sam Edwards to the stand. Mr. Edwards.
Raise your right hand and repeat after me. Do you solemnly swear or affirm to tell the
truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you?
I swear. Please be seated.
Please identify yourself. My name is Sam Edwards.
And Mr. Edwards, how do you know the defendant Lori Anderson?
Well, I never met her. On that Friday night, she ran a red light at high speed and plowed
into our car. And who was in the car with you that evening?
Our daughter Susie Edwards. My wife is donating blood at Rex Hospital, so I was driving Susie
to her last ballet lesson. Now, why do you say last ballet lesson?
Because it was her last ballet lesson. I don’t know.
Did you see what you did to my daughter? Step away–
I’m sorry. –step away, sir.
I’m sorry. Step away.
Sir, sir. I want you to relax, we’re going to around to the front and then we’re going
to get ready to go to the hospital, OK? Susie, I’m going to be riding in the front.
Foot in. Watch your head. Susie always loved ballet, ever since she
was a little girl. I have these fond memories of her dancing in our living room. She was
about six. So, cute in her little pink tutu. I could watch her for hours, daddy’s little
princess. Was Susie successful in ballet?
Oh, she was the best. She practiced all the time. When she wasn’t sleeping, she was dancing.
Two years ago, she won the grand championship in the state. That’s when she got the audition
to Juilliard. We were flying to New York the next day.
Will Susie still have the opportunity to go to Juilliard’?
Susie will never go to Juilliard. Susie will never dance again.
Daddy. Permission to show the jury, your Honor.
Yes. Oh my gosh.
No further questions for this witness. Any cross examination?
No, your Honor. Any further motions by either side?
No, your Honor. And very well, the defendants may now address
the jury. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, my client
Lori Anderson, she’s proved herself incapable of control in her drinking. Now she’s had
four DWIs and today, she’s penniless. She doesn’t even have the money to file for bankruptcy.
That’s a sad situation but she can’t pay anything for this plaintiff’s medical bills. It’s a
painful, painful situation but Lori Anderson today, she survives on government handouts.
She doesn’t even–She doesn’t even have a dime to call her own. Not a dime. She can’t
pay anything for the injuries and the grief that she’s caused this family. Thank you.
The attorney for Lawson Landscaping wish to make [inaudible], your Honor.
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, you’ve all heard my client Dale Lawson. Dale tried to
prevent this situation by requiring his employee to promise to drive according to the law.
The [inaudible] letter of employment was to make sure the new employee understood the
importance of not drinking and driving safely. In a few moments, you will all receive final
instructions from the judge. His Honor will tell you that when an employee goes out on
her own frolic, not doing the company’s business and is drinking–or is drinking well on the
job, the company cannot be held responsible. Lawson Landscaping should not have to pay
for this terrible mistake by the employee. That is the law. Thank you.
Plaintiffs wish to make a closing argument. Yes, your Honor.
Ladies and gentlemen, here is the sad truth, this piece of paper will never make things
right for Susie. Dale Lawson could have and should have done his homework and checked
into the employees driving record, but he didn’t. Mr. Lawson even neglected to even
ask to see Lori Anderson’s driver’s license. This is not only wrong, it’s negligent hiring.
It’s dereliction of duty, pure and simple. Mr. Lawson’s failure to do a background check
permitted that devastating drunk to wreak monumental damage in that young girl’s life.
We’ve shown here today that Susie’s life is never going to be the same again. And now
that the decision is up to you, it’s yours. Let’s make sure that we make the right one.
Let’s see to it that Susie ends up with justice. Thank you.
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, you’ve heard all the evidence, heard the arguments counsel
and you heard my instructions as to what the law is. It’s now for you to deliberate. Now
the first thing you need to do when you go in the jury room is to elect a foreperson
to guide and lead your deliberations. Once you’ve reached the unanimous decision, you
should report back to us. In the meantime, we encourage you to use your best common sense
and remember the evidence presented and the law that’s supplied and render a good and
fair judgment. You’re now free to go to the jury room.
Has the jury reached a decision? Yes. We have reached a unanimous decision.
We find– You have now heard all of the evidence in
the court case of the devastating drunk. How did the jury decide? Email your response to
[email protected], then you’ll find out the jury’s verdict. This is Wolfpack Reality
Television and I’m Kelly Andrews.

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