Saturday, August 3, 2019

Simpsonville sports bar settles in deadly DUI crash, jury awards $7.5M from driver

A Greenville County jury took the opportunity to send a message about driving under the influence when it ordered a woman to pay $7.5 million to the estate of a man killed in a DUI-related wreck.

The civil case revolved around whether a Simpsonville sports bar failed to responsibly serve alcohol to a woman who ultimately killed a motorcycle driver soon after she drove from the establishment.

In the end, the restaurant, Full House Sportzaria, settled for an undisclosed amount before the jury returned its verdict against the driver.

In motions leading up to the trial, a copy of text messages between Gibson’s personal representative in the case, Rachel Gibson, and associates asked to testify in the trial indicate the monetary amounts negotiated between Full House and the estate.


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In a text message, Rachel Gibson tells recipients that the restaurant offered to settle for $600,000 at mediation then later offered $1 million, but the offer was declined with a demand for no less than $5 million.


Marka Jean Fuller pleaded guilty to felony DUI in the January 2016 death of David Gibson and has awaited a deferred sentence since summer 2017 as the civil case has lagged on.

Later that fall, Gibson’s estate sued both the restaurant and Fuller for wrongful death.

The jury recently rendered a verdict of $2,523,500 in actual damages, then tacked on $5 million in punitive damages, according to court records.
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Marka Jean Fuller (Photo: Greenville County Detention Center)

The award is one that an attorney for Gibson’s estate, Wally Fayssoux, said sends “a firm message from the community on drunk driving.”

The Greenville News attempted to contact attorneys for the sports bar, with Greenville firm Gallivan, White & Boyd, through phone calls and received no response. The restaurant denied the allegations in an answer to the lawsuit.

Fuller's attorney, Ryan Beasley, told The Greenville News that a judge deferred her sentence so that she would cooperate in the civil trial and be available for depositions.

Beasley said Fuller is remorseful and wanted to reach out to the apologize to Gibson's family but wasn't allowed. He said she wanted to help the family receive monetary compensation.

“She was always sorry for the whole situation and wishes she could have done something to change the outcome, and unfortunately she couldn’t," Beasley said.

Beasley said he expected Fuller to be sentenced sometime soon.

The lawsuit lays out a similar case made in Fuller’s criminal proceedings.

Shortly after dark on Jan. 29, 2016, Gibson was driving a Honda motorcycle on SE Main Street in downtown Simpsonville and stopped to turn into a business parking lot.


David Gibson was killed in a January 2016 DUI crash. (Photo: Provided)

Fuller, then 43, was drunk and was driving a 2013 Ford 4S and slammed into the rear of the 58-year-old’s motorcycle, causing him to be ejected and killed on the scene.

Fuller “miserably failed all field sobriety tests and ultimately registered a blood alcohol level over twice the legal limit several hours after the wreck,” according to the suit.

In her criminal proceedings, Greenville County Sheriff's deputy Andrew Reese testified that Fuller's blood-alcohol content was .168. The legal limit is .08.

Fuller failed a field sobriety test outside of the hospital, and she declined to take a breathalyzer test, Reese said. The blood test revealed Fuller had at least five types of medication in her system, he said.

According to the civil suit, Fuller began drinking at a Fountain Inn bar at about 1 p.m. the day of the crash. Then two hours later, she went to Full House and was admitted despite an “obvious state of intoxication,” according to the suit.

At Full House, Fuller was served several glasses of wine and liquor shots and was seen harassing other patrons and taking from their plates while struggling to walk, according to the suit.

The suit alleges that Full House employees failed to follow standards designed to prevent over-serving alcohol and at no point did the bar’s employees refuse service or question how much she had drank before arriving.



When Fuller left with a friend, no one at the bar questioned their ability to drive nor offered alternative transportation, the suit alleges.

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