Some settlements reached in Kania civil suits

Kania in a file photo. (David Hurst/CBS North Carolina)

HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The families of the victims of a wrong-way drunk driving crash on Interstate 85 have reached settlements with the parents of the man who caused the crash and one of the bars he drank at the night of the wreck.

As a result of the settlement, Chandler Kania’s parents and He’s Not Here, a well-known Chapel Hill bar, have been dropped from the families’ lawsuits.

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A judge sealed the details of most of the settlements, but one settlement remained public.

Court documents reveal the details of a settlement with the family of Darlene McGee and the bar He’s Not Here. McGee’s youngest child has been awarded a $105,893 settlement. The money will be held in a trust or held until the child becomes old enough to legally withdraw it, according to documents.

The families still have pending litigation against Chapel Hill restaurant and bar La Residence and Chandler Kania. Court documents indicate a total of 15 additional defendants are expected to be added to the wrongful death lawsuit.

“Throughout the course of depositions and written discovery, plaintiffs have learned that there are several additional persons and entities who they contend were negligent and are needed parties to the litigation,” court documents read.

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Attorneys for the victims’ families indicate Kania’s friends and members of his fraternity could be named in the lawsuits.

“The information so far reveals that there was an atmosphere of alcohol abuse at this fraternity that may have contributed to the way these events unfolded,” said Chuck Monnett, one of the attorneys representing Jahnice Beard’s family.

Plaintiffs are also seeking to interview Chandler Kania, but Kania has refused to consent to a deposition, according to court documents. A judge approved the plaintiffs’ request to videotape a deposition of Chandler Kania from Foothills Correctional Institute “on the earliest possible date where are all Counsel are reasonably available.”

“It’s critical from our perspective to understand exactly what he did, who he did it with and who contributed to his drug use and alcohol use that night,” said Shawn Howard, an attorney representing Jahnice Beard’s family. “Chandler Kania, so far, has borne all the responsibility when I think the reality is that many folks did many things that night that were illegal and contributed to our client losing her 6-year-old little girl.”

The trial for the civil suits was initially scheduled for March 2017, but the cases have been continued and are scheduled to go to trial in February 2018 if settlements are not reached.

“Ms. McGee’s family would like to get this behind them but they’re willing to move forward to make sure justice is done and all negligent parties are held accountable,” said Ryan Oxendine, who is representing the family of Darlene McGee.

Kania’s attorney declined to comment, citing the pending litigation. The attorney representing “La Residence” did not respond for comment.

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