BROOKSVILLE — A Hernando County jury handed down a nearly $42 million verdict Friday to a quadriplegic man who sued Applebee's because he was severely injured after the restaurant served him and his friends alcohol even though they were underage.
"We're extremely pleased with the verdict," said attorney Wil Florin, who represented Patrick Osmond, 24. "We think it's going to send a message to bars and restaurants that you need to comply with the law regarding service of underage individuals regardless of their age."
After a night of drinking at Applebee's in 2012, Osmond was riding in the bed of a pickup truck that slammed into a tree. But he won't see anything close to what the jury believed he deserves. The jury found Applebee's is only responsible for 20 percent of the judgment, or about $8 million.
However, Florin said that after the jury verdict Osmond reached a settlement with the restaurant chain in exchange for Applebee's promising not to appeal the $42 million judgment. Florin would not reveal the amount of the settlement.
The jury divided the other 80 percent of responsibility for Osmond's injuries between two men: Osmond himself is responsible for 40 percent of what happened to him, and the driver of the pickup, Joseph Raub, is responsible for the other 40 percent.
Raub, though, doesn't owe 40 percent, or $16.8 million of the judgment, to Osmond. Florin said his client also settled with Raub after Friday's verdict for an undisclosed amount.
Osmond was 20 when he went to an Applebee's at 20090 Cortez Blvd. with his step-brother and two other men. They were served a pitcher of beer even though none of them were 21, according to Brooksville police. The bartender told officers she checked Osmond's license.
Raub, was also 20 at the time and wasn't served. But he later told investigators he took sips of beer when nobody was looking and admitted to drinking before arriving at Applebee's, police said.
After the group finished at Applebee's, they piled into Raub's pickup, with Osmond sitting in the bed of the pickup. Raub ran a red light at Broad Street and Ponce De Leon Boulevard, police said, lost control of the truck and hit a palm tree in the median. Osmond was propelled from the bed. He was diagnosed with incomplete quadriplegia, leaving him with limited strength and dexterity in his arms and no movement in his legs.
"This is a tragic story for the victims, their families and our community and our hearts go out to those impacted by this accident," Applebee's said in a statement. "We take very seriously the responsibility that comes with serving alcohol. We believe we fulfilled that obligation the evening of this accident. We also feel that reaching resolution is in the best interest for Mr. Osmond's recovery and rehabilitation."
Osmond said the verdict hasn't sunk in yet. He had hoped, like his father, to join the military. Now he wants to attend college and become an audio engineer.
Acquaintances before the crash, Osmond said he and Raub haven't stayed in touch. "I have no ill-will against him," Osmond said.
In the meantime, he plans to use the money for daily physical and occupational therapy and to buy a home and vehicle that can accommodate his wheelchair.
"This will allow him to live independently," said Florin, who worked on the case with attorneys Tom Roebig and Shaun Cummings.
Contact Josh Solomon at (813) 909-4613 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @josh_solomon15.