CANADIAN COUNTY, Okla. (KFOR) – A Canadian County judge set a trial date for a case between the parents of an 18 year old who was hit and killed by a wrong-way drunk driver.
In October of 2020, Marissa Murrow was driving along the Kilpatrick Turnpike, when Malcolm Penney, who was drinking and driving, hit her head on.
Now, the family wants the event venue to be held responsible for allowing Penney to drink as much as he did before heading out. By the time Penney was arrested, his blood-alcohol level was twice the legal limit. He was sentenced to life in prison for the crash.
Now, Marissa’s family wants the wedding venue to be held responsible for allowing Penney to drink for ten hours before heading out on the road.
The judge said this case will now go before a jury. The trial will start on the two-year anniversary of Murrow’s death, October 3.
“They had rules in place to prevent harm,” said Kristy Murrow, Marissa’s mother. “But then you ignore them. You’re responsible for that, for the harm that comes from that.”
Jeff and Kristy Murrow believe their daughter would still be here if The Spring’s event center in Edmond stuck to their alcohol rules.
“A man is sitting in jail for the rest of his life because of it, and I’m sure he would have appreciated them enforcing their rules as well,” said the mother.
Attorneys said before the crash that Penney spent the day drinking at the wedding venue.
The rules, laid out in court documents said “BYOB setups are not permitted” and that “no alcohol can be served or consumed until the authorized bartender is present.”
On Thursday, attorneys showed the judge several pictures of what they said was Penney after drinking from a BYOB area. At one point, Penney is shown passing a security guard, with what appears to be a can in his hand, before getting in the car and driving off. Plaintiffs argue the security guard was supposed to be enforcing the rules, but didn’t.
“If they would have just done what they said they would do in the contracts that they had, we could have possibly all have avoided this horrible thing,” said Kristie Murrow.
Defense attorneys argued The Springs was serving alcohol that came from a third party.
They said in court documents, “Plaintiffs are, quite literally, arguing The Springs filled Penney with alcohol and physically placed him into a vehicle on an Oklahoma road.”
Attorneys for The Springs call the event center a Social Host. According to documents, “The Springs was a social host because it had ‘some degree of control’ over the service of alcohol. Oklahoma courts have repeatedly rejected social host liability.”
They said Penney is to blame, because he is the one who decided to drink and drive.
Meanwhile, Murrow’s family is hoping to prevent another tragedy.
“If you think about how many weddings are being held and how many potential drivers are on the street, we need to do something,” said Jeff Murrow, Marissa’s Father.
“We would like to see this industry focus on having a fun celebration in the safest way possible,” said Kristy Murrow.
Court documents used in this report can be found here.
Attorneys for The Springs event center declined to comment.
They are asking the court to throw the case out. If the judge says no, they can still appeal to the Supreme Court.