4/20/2011 — Hare Wynn lawyers, Matt Minner and Jamie Moncus, obtained a large punitive damages verdict yesterday from a Madison County jury in a case involving the death of a Huntsville Police Officer. The family of slain Officer, Daniel Golden, brought the case after he was shot and killed in the line of duty when responding to a domestic disturbance call in 2005 at the Jalisco Mexican Resturant on Jordan Lane in Huntsville, Alabama.
Hare Wynn’s investigation revealed that the Jalisco restaurant, where the assailant was employed, failed to follow the Alabama ABC Board Regulations in allowing him to both drink during working hours and to become intoxicated from alcohol from the restaurant. “The evidence against this restaurant was overwhelming in allowing this man to drink and to become intoxicated on the job as a regular course of business,” said Matt Minner. Minner told the media outside the courtroom that, “the jury stood up for the Golden family, the Huntsville Police Department and the entire community in returning this verdict.” “The jury in this case sent a clear message to all restaurants and bars that our community will not tolerate violations of our laws and State alcohol regulations,” added Jamie Moncus. At $37,500,000.00, it is believed to be the largest verdict in the history of Madison County.
On August 29, 2005, Laura Castrejon, an employee of the Jalisco Mexican Restaurant, and wife of the manager Benito Albarran, placed a call to the Madison County 911 dispatch at approximately 3:21 p.m. Her husband Benito Albarran the manager of the restaurant, had been drinking beer since noon, was intoxicated, yelling, cussing and physically abusing her. The jury heard evidence that Benito Albarran was drinking beer provided by the Jalisco Restaurant. The evidence also established that such was a normal course of practice for Albarran at Jalisco.
Huntsville Police Officer Daniel Golden was dispatched to the restaurant on Jordan Lane in Huntsville, Alabama. Only steps after exiting his patrol car he was met by Benito Albarran who opened fire on Officer Golden. While Officer Golden returned fire, his service pistol jammed and was rendered useless almost immediately. Officer Golden was struck by a bullet in the pelvis and knocked to the ground. The jury heard testimony that while Officer Golden was down, pleading for his life with open palms, the assailant walked up and fired two more shots into Officer Golden’s face at point blank range, essentially executing him in the Jalisco parking lot.
Officer Golden is survived by his wife, two step children, his parents and brother. Benito Albarran was tried and convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death. He awaits execution on death row. The jury watched a videotaped deposition of Albarran from Donaldson Correctional Facility where he still refused to take any responsibility for his crime.
While Albarran was named as a defendant in this civil lawsuit, the case was brought primarily against the Jalisco restaurant since it refused to accept any responsibility for providing the alcohol to Albarran. Matt Minner told the jury that “the alcohol supplied by Jalisco could have really caused anything to happen; Albarran would have passed two schools and three churches on his drive home that day.” One of the arguments advanced by the defense was that nobody could predict that alcohol would lead Albarran to commit such a crime, but the jury concluded that this was indeed the kind of thing that can happen when such people are allowed to become very intoxicated. “It’s like pouring gasoline on a fire,” Jamie Moncus argued during closing arguments. The Golden family was relieved that the Jalisco Restaurant was finally held accountable for its role in Daniel Golden’s death.
The punitive damages only, as required by Alabama law, and assessed the verdicts at $25,000,000.00 against Albarran, and $12,500,000.00 against the Jalisco restaurant.
Hare Wynn is proud to have represented this wonderful family and is proud to have helped validate their feelings that the Jalisco restaurant bore some responsibility for enabling this horrific crime to take place. The lawsuit was brought under Alabama’s Dram Shop act, which prohibits the unlawful service of alcohol to employees and intoxicated persons.