Montville woman receives $1.45 million settlement in drunken-driving crash

A Montville woman who was critically injured last year in a head-on crash on Route 12 has received a $1.45 million settlement from the estate of a man who was killed in the crash, and is pursuing a lawsuit against the operators of Mohegan Sun, where the man had been drinking.

Andrea Bettencourt, 53, who was critically injured and underwent multiple surgeries, sued the estate of Mose L. Jones Jr., 64, of Groton. The case was headed to trial when it was settled in New London Superior Court for "virtually all of the liability insurance covering Jones," according to attorney Robert I. Reardon Jr., whose firm is representing Bettencourt.

Bettencourt also has sued the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority for its "reckless dispensing of liquor" to Jones, according to Reardon. Cases brought against the gaming authority are pending in Superior Court and Mohegan Tribal Court.

Attorney Robert A. Rhodes of the Halloran & Sage Law firm, representing the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, has filed a motion to dismiss the Superior Court lawsuit against the gaming authority because Bettencourt "has not exhausted her remedies" in tribal court, as required by law. The tribe, like the state of Connecticut, has a dram shop limit of $250,000 in damages, but it does not apply when there is reckless dispensing of liquor, according to Reardon.

According to Reardon, Bettencourt was headed home from her job at Integrated Dermatology in Groton on Jan. 14, 2016, when Jones' car came over the center line on Route 12 in Ledyard and slammed into her Mazda head-on. Jones was killed and both cars were totaled. Bettencourt was extracted from her car and taken by ambulance to The William W. Backus Hospital. 

She was transferred to Hartford Hospital due to the seriousness of her injuries. After five days, she was transferred to Three Rivers Rehabilitation Center, where she remained for 27 days. According to Reardon, she suffered fractures of her left leg and femur, rib fractures, a punctured lung, spinal fractures, a cervical fracture, facial and head fractures and hearing loss. 

"After a long recovery and multiple surgeries, she has made progress towards recovery, but she will not return to work due to her life-changing disabilities," Reardon said in a news release.

Jones had been drinking at Mohegan Sun and had left the casino shortly before the accident, according to the news release. Video surveillance from the casino showed Jones had struck a parked car in the parking lot at 5:27 p.m., about 15 minutes before the accident. Tests taken during an autopsy indicated Jones had a blood alcohol content of 0.39 percent.

"This horrible crash demonstrates just how tragic the results can be when bars serve excessive amounts of liquor to patrons, knowing that the patron will then be getting behind the wheel of a car," Reardon said in the release. "This scenario is ever more likely to occur when the patron is in the High Rollers bar at the Casino, as Mr. Jones was, and is not paying for each drink."

Reardon said it is fortunate that Bettencourt survived the crash and made a good recovery, but she will continue to require medical treatment. 

k.florin@theday.com

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