Aramark Appeals Jury Award

Attorneys for Aramark Corp., which operates concessions at Giants Stadium, asked a New Jersey state appeals court May 30th to throw out a $135 million jury award to a child who was paralyzed by a drunken driving incident in 1999. A new trial is also sought.

Legal reps claim that errors tainted the trial and the $75 million punitive damages included in the award aren’t allowed under the state’s alcohol liability statute, according to The Star-Ledger of New Jersey.

Last year, the jury found Philadelphia-based Aramark, which operates concessions at venues across North America, liable for serving beer to an intoxicated Daniel Lanzaro, who later caused a car crash that injured Fazila Verni and left her then 2-year-old daughter, Antonia, paralyzed from the neck down.

Verni family attorney David Mazie argued that there’s a “culture of intoxication” at Giants Stadium, which led to Lanzaro being served although he was visibly drunk.

Aramark attorney Stephen A. Cozen countered that the evidence should focus on whether Lanzaro was served while visibly drunk.

“It was a thin case,” Cozen told the paper. “There was no evidence of service to a visibly intoxicated person.”

Company attorneys argued that the trial judge was wrong to dismiss liability against the Giants, the National Football League and the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority. Those entities settled with the Verni family for about $700,000, but Aramark contends the jury should have been allowed to consider if those parties shared the responsibility.

Aramark was found liable after Lanzaro testified he bought six beers at halftime. He also admitted to drinking six beers during the first half, which caused his speech to slur.

Lanzaro’s blood alcohol level was measured at more than twice the legal limit of .10 after the crash. He pleaded guilty to vehicular assault and is serving a five-year prison term.

The NJSEA implemented stricter measures to monitor tailgating and drinking at Giants Stadium following the case.