• March 09, 2017

Morris Twp, PA: Tanya Phillips Killed, Frank Finnegan Jr, Michael Leathers & One Other Injured in Accident

Morris Township, PA -- A suspected alcohol related crash in the area of Morris Township, PA took the life of 20-year-old Tanya Phillips and left Frank Finnegan Jr., 22, Michael Leathers, and an unidentified 14-year-old with injuries.

The incident took place around 11 p.m. on Plumsock Rd.

According to the reports, a passenger car veered out of control, striking a vehicle in the opposite lane. The driver of the car, 22-year-old Frank Finnegan Jr. was injured in the incident. A 14-year-old passenger was taken to a local hospital with undisclosed injuries. Another passenger in the car, 20-year-old Tanya Phillips, was killed in the collision. The driver of the second vehicle, Michael Leathers, sustained leg injuries in the crash.

The exact cause of the incident is unclear, but police say alcohol contributed to the crash.

The official investigation is currently underway.

map of the area


One aspect of the law that the general public finds most frustrating is that two standards that seem identical have different functions when put into practice. A good example of this is how law related to drunk driving varies in practice between Pennsylvania and my home state of Texas.

In Texas, dram shop law holds bars accountable for over-service of obviously intoxicated individuals that may go on to harm themselves or others. In Pennsylvania, a similar law states that bars that over-serve visibly intoxicated individuals may be held liable if they go out and cause harm. On the surface, the difference may seem negligible, but for victims and their families seeking accountability from bars, this matter may be the difference between winning or losing their case.

The term visibly intoxicated in Pennsylvania dram law means bars can serve individuals potentially dangerous amounts of alcohol without having to witness signs of drunkenness, or the consumption of alcohol. Because of this, bars in Pennsylvania have arguments available to them that would go nowhere in a Texas court.

This means victims of drunk driving accidents in Pennsylvania have to show the accused driver was visibly intoxicated when the bar served them. In other words, for a bar to be considered negligent, the driver would have to be seen to be drunk when served by the bar.

As you can imagine, proving this becomes increasingly difficult. All a bar would have to do is claim they were unable to track the consumption of alcohol by the accused driver.

In a similar situation in Texas, a jury would simply insist the bar find a more responsible way to keep track of their patron's alcohol consumption.

What may seem a very subtle interpretation of very similar laws could mean all the difference in the world for victims seeking justice in drunk driving accidents.

--Grossman Law Offices


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