Davies reaches settlement in civil suit

October 3, 2012

Charlie Davies, left, scored 11 goals for D.C. United in 2011 but hasn’t played much this year in France and Denmark. (Jonathan Newton — The Washington Post)

American soccer player Charlie Davies reached a settlement with businesses that served alcohol to the woman responsible for an auto accident in which he suffered severe injuries three years ago.

Davies, 26, had filed a $20 million lawsuit last year against the owners of Shadow Room, a Washington nightclub, and Red Bull North America, which hosted a private party at the K Street establishment on the night of the crash. A confidentiality agreement prevents the sides from discussing terms of the deal.

In documents filed in D.C. Superior Court last October, Davies claimed the club and party organizers continued to serve Maria Alejandra Espinoza, even though she “became clearly intoxicated.”

Espinoza drove off the George Washington Memorial Parkway in Arlington in the early hours of Oct. 13, 2009, killing University of Maryland graduate Ashley Roberta, 22, and severely injuring Davies.

Espinoza was sentenced to two years in prison after pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter and maiming while driving intoxicated.

Davies had been in Washington with the U.S. national team and broke coach Bob Bradley’s curfew two days before a World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica at RFK Stadium. He suffered numerous fractures, a ruptured spleen and bleeding in the brain. At the time, doctors were uncertain whether he would play again.

The lawsuit cited physical and emotional trauma, substantial medical expenses and the stunting of his career.

The suit claimed the defendants “had a duty to be aware of the provisions” in Washington’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Act, which prohibits the “sale or delivery of alcoholic beverages to … an intoxicated person or any person who appears to be intoxicated.”

On Internet message boards, some fans were critical of Davies’s decision to sue and that he was at fault for accepting a ride from Espinoza. At the time the suit was filed, his attorney, Jon Pels, said in an interview: “As he was leaving, the driver asked if she and her friend could give him a ride to his hotel. In the hustle and bustle of the lobby as he was walking out — a split-second decision — he said yes. There was no meaningful time in which Mr. Davies had an opportunity to ‘observe’ the driver; he had no knowledge what she had been drinking or whether she had been drinking.”

Once slated to start for the U.S. team at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and perhaps move to bigger European clubs, Davies has not been able to regain the form he displayed before the accident. He did make an inspirational comeback, rebounding from multiple operations and months of rehabilitation to score 11 goals while on loan to D.C. United during the 2011 MLS campaign.

Upon returning to French club Sochaux for the second half of the 2011-12 season, however, he played primarily for the reserve squad and made two brief first-team appearances.

In July, Davies signed with Randers, an undecorated Danish team. He has played in eight of the 11 league games as a substitute, totaling 173 minutes. Since the accident, he has not received a national team call-up.

 

Steven Goff is The Post’s soccer writer. His beats include D.C. United, MLS and the international game, as well as local college basketball.
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