Seeking jackpot justice

The SE Texas Record Aug. 23, 2008, 11:46am

$15 million lawsuit? Why not $15 billion?

There seems to be no sensible compensation for the family of late Meagan Watkins, who now are demanding generational wealth from the Crockett Street bar it blames for her death.

The Watkins' lawyer, John Morgan, filed the asinine $15 million demand in a late July motion in Jefferson County Court seeking a default judgment. Under traditional splits if he wins, he would get a third.

On June 5, Ms. Watkins partied at Dixie Dance Hall before getting behind the wheel, heading the wrong way on Interstate 10, and colliding head-on with a parked tow truck. The tow truck driver was injured, but he survived.

Her family is blaming not just the bar, but her insurance company and that tow truck driver for their daughter's fatal behavior. And they want lots and lots of money, we now know, enough to ensure neither they nor their heirs ever have to work again.

Lawyers reading this will snicker that we're simply naive. That inflated $15 million demand is merely a tactic, they would say. The Watkins' and Morgan don't expect to get that much, but they want to start the haggling high.

Regular folks with a less cynical view of the world might have simpler questions. Such as-- by what rationale do the Watkins think the bar is responsible for their daughter's reckless drunk driving? Or how did they come up with the $15 million figure in the first place?

There's no science to valuing the life of a 22-year old woman. It's possible that the number was picked out of thin air to scare.

Scare who? The owners of Dixie Dance Hall, to be sure. They've already closed the place and several others they own in Beaumont's downtown Crockett Street entertainment district. As of June 30, they are out of the bar and restaurant business.

And who would want to fill the Crockett Street void Dixie left, knowing all that lies between them and a $15 million lawsuit is one careless patron out of their control.

Think lawsuits don't have broader consequences?

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