DRUNKEN DRIVING CASE Family sues driver, VFW over friend's death
The suit says the driver drank excessive amounts of alcohol at the club.
WARREN -- The family of a teenager who saw her friend get hit by a car and die in April 2003 is suing the drunken driver and the establishment that served him the drinks.
Kathleen and Joseph Bellino of Wrenfield Drive, Hubbard, filed suit Wednesday in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court on behalf of their daughter Janine, who was injured in the accident.
Named as defendants are William Demidovich of Stoney Brook Drive, Hubbard; Hubbard Post 3767 Veterans of Foreign Wars; and VFW of the United States.
They seek compensatory damages in excess of $75,000 and more than $150,000 in punitive damages. The case is assigned to Judge Peter Kontos.
Domidovich, 69 at the time, was sentenced to six years in prison. He pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicular homicide, aggravated vehicular assault and felony hit and run.
The accident killed Krysten Studer, 14, of Grandview Avenue, and injured five other girls, all 14- and 15-year-olds. They had been walking on the side of state Route 304 in front of Pine Lakes Golf Course when Demidovich's car struck them from behind.
The Bellino lawsuit states that Demidovich was a member of VFW Post 3767 and on April 4, 2003, patronized its bar.
There, "he consumed excessive amounts of alcoholic beverages, exhibited obvious signs of extreme alcohol intoxication, subsequently left the Hubbard VFW and drove his car under the influence of alcohol," the suit states.
Demidovich was westbound on state Route 304 in Hubbard when he drove off the road and into the group of pedestrians, including Janine Bellino.
The vehicle struck Janine and as a result of Demidovich's gross negligence, she "was forced to witness the violent and traumatic death of her friend Kyrsten Studer."
This caused pain, shock and distress, as well as temporary disability, hospital and medical treatment and medical bills, the Bellinos say.
After the collision, Demidovich fled the scene and drove home while intoxicated "in order to avoid the police and responsibility," their suit continues.
Bar part of suit
The Hubbard VFW, they add, was grossly negligent in allowing Demidovich to consume excessive amounts of alcohol, knowing that he'd be operating a vehicle and putting the public at risk.
The VFW, they continue, has a permit to sell alcohol but also a statutorily imposed duty not to sell or furnish beer or liquor to someone who is intoxicated.
The U.S. VFW, the suit states, also is liable for not requiring a subordinate unit to buy liquor liability insurance and by permitting the sale of alcoholic beverages to intoxicated people it knew would be driving.
On the day of the accident, Demidovich began drinking around noon in a bar in Pennsylvania and continued drinking and playing pool at the Hubbard VFW until around 7 p.m., the prosecution said at trial.
His car struck the girls as he was on his way home. He was arrested at home by police a few hours later.
The VFW has also been named, along with Demidovich, in a lawsuit by Krysten's estate. The suit also charges that the VFW continued to serve Demidovich even though he was drunk.