A now-closed Dallas nightclub and former Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Josh Brent bear joint responsibility for the death of Brent's best friend and former teammate Jerry Brown in a 2012 car accident, a Dallas County jury decided.
During a nearly weeklong trial, attorneys for Brown's family asked the jury to find the management of Beamers lounge liable for serving Brent after he was already intoxicated, contributing to Brown's death in an auto accident in December 2012. While Brent was named in the lawsuit, attorneys representing Brown's mother, Stacey Jackson, sought punitive damages against the club, telling jurors that they believed Brent had already been held responsible at his criminal trial, at which a jury sentenced him to 10 years probation.
Jackson told jurors at both trials that she'd forgiven Brent and that the two remain in contact.
Thursday, the jury awarded Jackson and her son's estate $25 million, to be split between Beamers and Brent, whom jurors decided were both 48 percent responsible for Brown's death. The jury did not assess any punitive damages.
Brent had a blood alcohol level of 0.18 and was driving more than 100 mph when he flipped his Mercedes six minutes after leaving Beamers on Dec. 7. Neither Brent nor Brown was wearing a seat belt during the crash.
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A toxicologist at the civil trial testified that someone Brent's size — he weighed 320 pounds in 2012 — would have needed to consume at least 14 drinks to raise his blood alcohol level to 0.18, more than twice the legal limit. Nevertheless, attorney's representing Beamers argued that Brent was not intoxicated when he got to the club and was still sober when he left, according to reporters in the courtroom.
Lawyers for the club said Brent alone was responsible for Brown's death, because he made the decision to drink and drive.
"He had many options. He ignored them all," Spencer Markle said in closing arguments. "Nobody forced him to drink. Nobody forced him to drive."
Brent testified Monday that he ordered three bottles of champagne and a bottle of Hennessy at Beamers. He only remembered drinking a glass-and-a-half of champagne and two Hennessy-and-Cokes he said, but video from Beamers the night of the accident showed him drinking from the Hennessy bottle and pouring drinks for himself.