$1,000,000 – Bar Cleared of Liability, Man Awarded in Drunk Driving Case

STROUDSBURG - A Monroe County jury on Monday awarded $1 million to a man who was badly injured in a drunken driving crash that killed his friend five years ago. The jury awarded $250,000 to the estate of the man who died. It also ruled that Werry's Pub - the Marshalls Creek bar where the man who caused the deadly accident drank alcohol shortly before he died - was not responsible for the crash.

John E. Savoth

The civil case before Judge Jerome Cheslock concerned who was responsible for the death of Christopher Blanchard and the serious injuries suffered by Blanchard's friend Justin Guyer in a car accident on Route 209 in Marshalls Creek on Jan. 13, 2001.

Blanchard was 19 and Guyer 17 at the time. Both young men lived in Bushkill.

Blanchard was killed after a southbound car driven by Anthony Guzman, 35, crossed the center line of Route 209 and crashed into Blanchard's northbound car near Oak Grove Drive at about 2 a.m.

Guzman also died in the crash. His blood alcohol level was above 0.20 percent, more than twice the legal limit for driving, according to post mortem tests.

Blanchard's mother, Margaret Aldous and Guyer, now 22, sued Guzman's estate and Werry's Pub, which they contended broke the law by serving alcohol to Guzman when he was visibly drunk.

The jury found that Werry's Pub and its employees were not negligent, according to Scott Gemberling, the Philadelphia attorney who represented Werry's.

A key piece of evidence was a security tape of the bar which showed that Guzman did not act as though he was clearly drunk, Gemberling said.

The jury, which saw the tape Thursday, had to determine if Anthony Guzman, 35, was visibly drunk, and if so whether Werry's Pub in Marshalls Creek broke the law by continuing to serve him drinks.

"This case was quite unusual," Gemberling said. "Juries seldom get to see a tape like this, especially a tape of this quality."

The tape shows Guzman entering Werry's Pub around 1 a.m. and leaving around 2 a.m., minutes before the accident.

Guzman was among a minority of people who are able to drink alcohol well beyond the point at which they pass the legal limit for driving without showing visible signs of intoxication, Gemberling said.

The jury awarded $1 million to Guyer and $250,000 to Blanchard's estate, but placed all of the responsibility for the deadly crash on Guzman, Gemberling said.

Guyer, now 22, and his family, represented by Philadelphia lawyer John Savoth, sued Werry's Pub. Blanchard's mother, Margaret Aldous, represented by Doylestown attorney Frank Gallagher, sued Guzman's estate, represented by Bethlehem attorney Paul Schaffer.

The plaintiffs and their attorneys could not be reached for comment Monday evening.

Pocono Record writer Andrew Scott contributed to this report.