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Settlement Over Loss of Companionship in Adult Daughter’s DWI Death

May 22, 1992

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) _ A couple who won the right to sue for the loss of their adult daughter’s companionship in a drunken driving case said Thursday they had settled out of court for $250,000.

Adam and Ann Clymer said that under the settlement, the two bars named as defendants in the case also would give employees special training on serving alcohol and handling drunk customers.

Jane emily Clymer, 18, was a junior at the University of Vermont when she was struck by a drunk driver as she walked her bicycle along a country road in September 1985.

Theron C. Webster, 38, of Hinesburg, was convicted of driving while intoxicated, death resulting, and sentenced to three years in prison. The Clymers reached a $120,000 settlement with Webster’s insurance company.

They also sued Wesson’s Diner and the Rotisserie, the South Burlington bars where Webster had been drinking, under a state law that holds bars legally liable when their customers get drunk, then hurt themselves or others.

In a ruling that set Vermont apart from most states, the state Supreme Court ruled that the Clymers could sue for the loss of their child’s love and companionship, even though she was 18 years old.

Most states permit such lawsuits only if the children are 17 or younger.

Neither bar admitted negligence or culpability in the settlement. Edward Madden, owner of the Rotisserie, and Deborah Wesson of Wesson’s appeared at a news conference announcing the $250,000 settlement.

Clymer said the money would be used to establish a scholarship in memory of their only child.

″With the attention we have focused on the issue, I think we have contributed to stiffer enforcement of the DWI laws here in Vermont,″ said Clymer, chief congressional correspondent for The New York Times.


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