The $40 million verdict was in noneconomic damages for the death of thirty-three-year old Orlando Jordan. His parents were the plaintiffs.
The case involved the stabbing and killing of Mr. Jordan by an underage drinker. Rey and Carmen Jordan sued TGI Fridays and the Riverside restaurant’s operator, New Jersey-based Briad Group, arguing that the employees there knowingly served alcohol to intoxicated minors, including one of their son’s attackers.
Rowley represented the decedent’s mother, with Keith Bruno representing the decedent’s father. Angela Bruno co-tried the case for the father and handled his direct examination and multiple issues throughout trial. Patrick Logan handled the visuals and Steven Halteman worked as a jury consultant and trial strategist. Attorney Steve King played an important part by trying the entire case representing a cross-defendant.
California law gives legal immunity to bars and restaurants that serve minors, except when they’re obviously drunk. “We were able to prove that the minor was already obviously intoxicated at the time they served him,” Rowley said, adding that the minor ordered the equivalent of twelve servings of alcohol in thirty minutes.
The family’s allegations were supported by TGI Friday’s head bartender who testified that Briad Group, which operates sixty-eight of the restaurants across twenty-six states, made a deliberate decision to not card minors in order to increase profits on Fridays and Saturdays.
After the verdict, most of the jurors stayed to speak with the counsel for Rey Jordan, Keith Bruno. “Each juror expressed that they felt they had done something good—that they could be proud of. They were appalled by what was going on at the TGI Fridays and they wanted their verdict to reflect the value of human life in Riverside County,” stated Bruno.
The outcome was even more surprising given the challenges faced by the plaintiffs. The judge granted nonsuit of the entire case except for the question as to whether, at the time of the stabbing, the minor was obviously intoxicated at the time he was served alcohol. The judge excluded all security issues and granted nonsuit for the negligent hiring, negligent security, and general negligence. The judge only allowed one lawyer to ask questions of each witness. The plaintiffs tried the case with no expert witnesses. It was tried in department six of the central Riverside Superior Court. The trial was six weeks long.
Carmen Jordan was represented at trial by Trial Guides author Nick Rowley of Carpenter, Zuckerman & Rowley, LLP. Rey Jordan was represented by husband and wife team Keith and Angela Bruno of Bruno|Nalu. Their trial consultant was Trial Guides author Steve Halteman.
You can find more about the case at: Jordan, et al. v. TGI Fridays, et al., Riverside Superior Court, Case No. RIC 1100955.