HESP July 2, 2018


Dutchess County Court House in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

Twitter post:

Wednesday, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. – A driver who injured a married couple in a vehicle accident was intoxicated more than three hours after the accident, an expert, the theatre worker that served him alcohol, and others testified against him. Trial adjourned to Nov. 14. More to follow.

Don’t drink, post your pictures on Facebook, and drive

POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. – A driver who injured a married couple in a vehicle accident was intoxicated more than three hours after the accident, an expert, the theatre worker that served him alcohol, and others who testified against him said on Wednesday.

The plaintiffs, Christine and Richard Edelson, continued their civil suit against the driver, Robert Azud, who crashed into their car on February 14, 2015 at approximately 2:13 a.m., and the Capitol Theatre and its owners at Dutchess Supreme Court Judge Maria Rosa.


Azud got drunk at the Capitol Theatre and crashed into the plaintiffs’ car causing them permanent injuries and damages. The Capitol Theatre violated the Dram Law for serving alcohol to a visibly intoxicated patron and leaving him operating a vehicle.

During the trials, Richard Edelson kept alternating between sitting, standing, and walking back and forth inside the courtroom. He sat on a cushion over the hard wooden court benches.

Most of the time, his wife kept holding her left arm and the left side of her back.

“We have injuries all over our bodies,” said Christine Edelson.

According to the complaint, they asked for punitive damages exceeding the jurisdictional limits with the costs and disbursements. See

Richard Edelson said they had been under medical supervision since the crash until the trial day, and he was paying these expenses out of his pocket. Through the case, he requested the defendants to share the cost with him, he said.

The insurance company refused to compensate Richard Edelson because they were not wearing the seatbelts. The defendants’ attorneys used this report and denied all the accusations claiming that if they were following the safety procedures the damages and the injuries probably would have demolished, according to Exhibits C and D.


As the plaintiffs were not wearing the seatbelts, the damages and injuries are their fault due to their negligence, the defendants’ attorneys say in Exhibits C and D.

During the trial, Azud’s attorney, Joseph Redd, said it was impossible that Azud was intoxicated as the Capitol Theatre regulations allowed only two drinks per patron.

The plaintiffs’ attorneys showed the judge and the jury a bartender’s Facebook posts and pictures that showed that patrons got drunk at the Capitol Theatre. The posts were an advertisement to the venue, according to Exhibit KK.

The defendants’ attorneys showed 18 pictures of Richard Edelson before and after the accident showing life-enjoyment to refute that the accident caused him permanent damages and injuries.


The court docket hanged on the wall beside the courtroom


Expert testimony

Jeffrey Peter Jannarone, a public police officer with a forensic degree and certified master instructor in Techniques of Alcohol Management (TAM) and Training for Intervention ProcedureS (TIPS) certificates, testified on Nov. 8, 2017 that Azud was definitely visibly intoxicated and that the Capitol Theatre violated the TAM and TIPS procedures and worked against the Dram law.

TAM and TIPS programs state never to serve an underage or visibly intoxicated patron.

He said that the programs trained the bartenders, bar managers, and police officers to recognize the intoxication levels.

He said the first level was judgment impairment like giving much money as tips, the second level was the inability to talk properly, the highest intoxication level was bouncing, staggering then falling, and finally was passing out.

The witness testified against the driver

Jannarone said the Capitol Theatre receipts on the accident day showed that Azud drank 23 drinks in 2 hours, 3 minutes.

Moreover, Jannarone said that the hospital report says that Azud’s Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) was 0.21 three hours after the accident while the intoxication level starts at 0.08. He said that Azud’s alcohol level was way higher than 0.08.

“According to the receipts, Azud drank four whiskey shots in two minutes,” Jannarone said.

He said if two people drank the same amount of alcohol; the one drinking faster would be more intoxicated.

“The alcohol level decreases with time. Hence, I confirm that at the accident time, Azud’s BAC was much higher than 0.21,” Jannarone said.

The witness testified against the theatre

He said that the Capitol Theatre should have stopped serving Azud as he stumbled at the bar. This was a clear cue that he lost his body coordination.

Jannarone said, “The Capitol Theatre failed to follow both the national Dram law and the New York on-premises license.”

The Dram law states that “a business which sells alcoholic drinks or a host who serves liquor to a drinker who is obviously intoxicated or close to it, is strictly liable to anyone injured by the drunken patron or guest”, according to the Dram Shop Civil Liability and Criminal Penalty State Statutes.

He said the theatre bartenders should have offered Azud an alternate transportation, and if he refused, they should have called the police.

He said that in the bartenders’ testimonies, they said that three of Azud’s friends passed out from drinking, and Azud blacked out as he was very loud and boisterous.

Moreover, to issue the On Premises Liquor License, the establishments must serve food, according to NYS Liquor Authority, Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

“Food slows down alcohol absorption, and the Capitol Theatre does not serve food. They serve only pretzels and chip which is a violation of the law,” said Jannarone.

The plaintiffs’ attorney, Richard Mogg, questioned the methodology that Jannarone used. Jannarone said he reviewed the police reports of this motor vehicle accident, bill of particulars, disposition, and exhibits. Moreover, he inspected the site in May 2016 where he stayed for three hours making observations about the bar, bartenders, bar manager, the distances between the bar and the tables, type of alcoholic beverages and the process of serving at the cash registries, he said.

Judge Maria Rosa’s Supreme Court Room

The judge’s decision

Judge Rosa ruled to preclude Richard Edelson’s enjoyment pictures, and to include the expert testimony as to defendant Azud’s blood alcohol level at the accident. Moreover, she ruled that the Facebook posts, which indicate that the Capitol Theatre’s patrons got drunk as an advertisement, could not be admitted into evidence in the trial documents.

“The court system makes such cases take too long,” said Christine Edelson.

Trial adjourned to Nov. 14. More to follow.

Decision and Order-Exhibit B


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 This essay was originally submitted to news reporting course with Prof. Sallie Sharp.

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