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Webb v. Rivers
507 S.E.2d 360, Va., VA, 11/06/1998
Category Victim v. Perpetrator 
Topic Theory of Liability, Assault and Battery 
Filename Alcohol Related 
Crime DUI 
Location Street 
Prevailing Party Plaintiff 
Other Parties
HoldingStatement of Facts: On May 3, 1995, Sidney M.. Webb ("Webb") and his wife, Jacqueline, were hit by a car driven by Jason A. Rivers ("Rivers"). Rivers, who was "entirely intoxicated" at the time of the crash, had run a red light and was driving 65 m.p.h. above the speed limit. Webb filed an action for civil damages against Rivers, and the jury awarded Webb $350 in compensatory damages. However, the trial court sustained Rivers' motion striking Webb's claim for punitive damages. Webb appealed. Holding: The Supreme Court of Virginia affirmed the plaintiff's compensatory damage award, reversed the order dismissing Webb's common law claim for punitive damages, and remanded. Although Webb failed to make a statutory claim for punitive damages, a common law remedy is possible if Rivers' acts of recklessness or negligence showed a conscious disregard for the rights of others. Rivers was driving 90 m.p.h. in a 25 m.p.h. zone, ran a red light, had a blood alcohol level of .21%, and was so drunk that he did not know where he was. Therefore, the trial court abused its discretion when it dismissed Webb's punitive damage claim. 

Damage Award $350 compensatory; punitive to be determined 
Victim's Counsel     
Plaintiff's Counsel Gary R. Hershner, Richmond 
Plaintiff's Expert      
Defense Counsel William Tyler Shands, Richmond 
Defense Expert

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