Defendants Agree to Settle DUI Wrongful Death Case

Thursday, May 06, 2010

The Missouri police officer and the bar she drank at have agreed to a settlement of $2.25 million to be paid to the families of four young people killed in a traffic crash last year. Three of the victims were Eastern Illinois University students.

The wrongful death suit was brought by the survivor of the crash and the dead victims' families. The suit held that officer Christine L. Miller drank a large quantity of alcohol while off duty on the night of the accident, specifically at O'Leary's Restaurant and Bar. She then drove her car into oncoming traffic while intoxicated.

Files from the St. Louis County Circuit Court indicate that the families each will receive $331,375 as part of the settlement. $750,000 will go to the plaintiffs' attorneys, with the remaining $180,000 going to survivor Nitesh Adusumilli and his lawyer, as well as court fees. The exact details of Adusumilli's settlement were not released.

The primary accusation against Officer Miller was negligence due to drunk driving and driving on the wrong side of the road. Her BAC was .169 three hours after the crash, which is more than twice the legal limit for the area.

The suit was filed six days after criminal charges were filed against the officer. She has been charged with four counts of first degree involuntary manslaughter, and one count of second-degree assault. The crash happened at 1:45 a.m. March 21, 2009. Miller drove her car eastbound into the westbound lanes, colliding with the victims' Honda.

Those killed in the wreck were Satya Subhakar Chinta, Anusha Anumolu, Anita Lakshmi Veerapaneni, and Priya Muppayarapu. The last three were graduate students at EUI, and all four passengers were originally from India, having come to work and study in the United States.

The sole survivor of the crash suffered extensive injuries, including head trauma. However, he was eventually able to return to work. It is unknown if a date has been set in the criminal trial for the officer.


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