Should an employer be held liable for the wrongful conduct of an intoxicated employee? That is the decision a Michigan judge has to make in the wrongful death lawsuit filed by Gary Weinstein. Mr. Weinstein filed the lawsuit against UGS Corporation, alleging the company knew that employee Tom Wellinger was drunk when he left work on the afternoon of May 3, 2005. Mr. Weinstein’s wife, Judith, and two young sons, Sam and Alex, died after Tom Wellinger, who was driving while intoxicated, plowed his SUV into Judith Weinstein’s Honda Accord at 70 mph, pushing the car into oncoming traffic. Wellinger didn’t swerve, hit the brakes, or take any action to avoid the accident. Mrs. Weinstein and Alex died instantly; Sam was thrown from the car and pronounced dead at the hospital. Mr. Wellinger had a blood alcohol level of 0.43 − over 4 times higher than the legal DUIL (Driving Under the Influence of Liquor-the Michigan standard for "Drunk Driving") limit in Michigan and over 6 times the "Driving While Impaired", lower drinking and driving standard in the state. Weinstein’s attorney, Frank Guerra, alleges that after a performance review that morning, Wellinger’s employer ordered him to see a doctor (psychiatrist) about his drinking problem and permitted him to get into his car and drive to the appointment while visibly intoxicated. UGS denies the allegation stating that Mr. Wellinger was not intoxicated at work and was not asked to leave or see a doctor, although he did leave early for a previously scheduled doctor’s appointment.
In April, 2006, Mr. Wellinger pleaded guilty to three counts of second-degree murder and was sentenced to 19-30 years. During his testimony, Mr. Wellinger admitted that he drank at least six ounces of vodka while at the office that day. After his return from lunch, some UGS employees said he appeared intoxicated. Others claim that he had a well-known drinking problem and noticed him drunk at work on numerous occasions. I
Mr. Weinstein has said more than once that he does not hate Mr. Wellinger, but hates what he did. “I am aware he had a life. He had two kids … I do think back to him and his life being virtually over, also,” said Weinstein. That is a very generous statement and outlook; this kind of compassion is a rare human quality. All of us are responsible for our actions and all of us must face the consequences of those actions. Your actions can and do affect others; serious auto accidents are usually preventable. Don’t make careless decisions. Act responsibly; drive responsibly!
Lawsuit Financial extends its profound condolences to Mr. Weinstein. Hopefully, publicity generated by this terrible tragedy will teach others about the dangers of driving while intoxicated; in this small way, the deaths of Mr. Weinstein’s family members will have some positive legacy.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in an auto accident, whether or not it was caused by a drunk driver, you should consult an attorney who specializes in these cases. If you are unsure how to proceed, Lawsuit Financial can provide referral assistance. Serious injury accidents are usually seriously contested by the people or companies that cause them. Financial distress for victims is not uncommon since insurance companies do everything in their power to delay resolving the case and paying settlements, verdicts or judgments. Auto accident lawsuit funding is available to victims and is provided to help a grieving family cover medical expenses, household bills, lost income, and funeral expenses. Do not give in to corporate tactics pressuring you to settle for less. Lawsuit Funding can and often does ease your financial burden, giving your attorney the time needed to obtain full value in your case.
Attorney, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Betrayal Series. Mark Bello is also a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.