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Victory for Survivors of a Young Father Killed by Drunk Driver and the Bar that Served Him: $11,162,529
Kristopher Stow was a hero. He was the caring father of two. He was a loving, devoted husband to Erin. He was a loving, dutiful son to Katy. Kristopher made those around him laugh and smile. He was a ray of sunshine. He made this world a better place. But that all ended on the night of June 17, 2011. Kristopher was riding his motorcycle heading north on SH 36 near Caldwell, Texas with his daughter as they headed to meet family to celebrate her birthday. Hold this image in your mind.
Earlier that afternoon, Thomas Raymond Pennington got off of work as a meat cutter, went home, and immediately started drinking, having about 3 16oz beers. Then he picked up his dad and they went to the Longhorn Bar & Grill, where Pennington had another 8 to 10 beers. While he was at the Longhorn, he fell off a stool, but the bartenders “kept ‘em coming.” After Pennington and his dad left the Longhorn, they went to dad’s house, where Pennington smoked a joint and drank half a 24 oz. beer. Then he left and headed home, but he just couldn’t resist the urge to stop at a convenience store and get a six-pack for the road.
Pennington stood by the beer fridge about 10 minutes, trying to figure out what he could buy with the few bucks in his pocket. Finally, he decided on Bud Ice. He walked out to his old red Suburban, six-pack in hand. He got behind the wheel and drove southbound on SH 36.
Meanwhile, here come Kristopher and his daughter, traveling northbound on SH 36. Pennington attempts to turn from southbound SH 36 onto FM 60, but he fails to yield. Kristopher tries to stop. The motorcycle tire marks the pavement before colliding with the Suburban. Kristopher is thrown underneath the Suburban and dies. His daughter is thrown to the side of the road, suffering minor injuries.
Jesus Garcia, Jr. and Mario E. de la Garza presented this tragedy, it all its devastating detail, to the jury. They presented the testimony of a toxicologist, who explained Pennington’s level of intoxication at the time of the tragedy. They got to know Kristopher through many powerful memories cherished by Erin and Katy and shared these with the jury, so that the jury would too know Kristopher. Garcia and de la Garza showed the jury how Kristopher’s death caused spiritual amputations to Erin, his widow, and Katy, his surviving mother.
The jury climbed the highest mountain and loudly declared justice for the whole world to hear: Pennington and the Longhorn were negligent and killed Kristopher, and they awarded Erin and Katy over $11 million. Pennington is in prison and the Longhorn is out of business.