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SHIFTING BLAME IN DEADLY DUI CASE


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2/10/2012
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What should have been a fun night with friends on February 5, 2010 turned into a senseless tragedy.  To celebrate her son’s 21st birthday, a parent rented a party bus for him and his friends to celebrate.  Apparently there were underage kids drinking on the bus.  The bus drove the partiers for four hours between Burlingame and San Francisco.  When the bus ride ended 19 year old Brett Studebaker got behind the wheel of his car, and his friend Gregory Hinman joined him in the passenger seat.  The two never made it home.  Studebaker lost control of his car and crashed in San Mateo, killing himself and seriously injuring Hinman. 
What has followed is a pathetic attempt to shift responsibility to others.  Hinman is suing the party bus operator and his former friend Studebaker’s estate.  Never mind that he willingly participated in the festivities on the bus, and chose to get into a car with another person who had been drinking. 
Mr. Studebaker’s family is also suing the bus operator for damages.  I guess the theory is they forced their son to get drunk on the bus, and then made him try to drive home.  The tragedy that they suffered must surely be immeasurable, but don’t they bear any responsibility for checking up on what kind of party their son was going to and who would be supervising?
The bus company is joining the lawsuit party as well, suing the parents of the birthday boy for organizing the party and supplying the kids with booze before they got on the bus. 
It is unfortunate that instead of trying to learn something from this tragedy everyone involved is trying to shift blame on everyone else.  At the end of the day, the only winners will be the tort lawyers who feed on this misery. 


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