The Madison County Record Apr. 14, 2015, 8:17am

The designated driver at a Madison County social event is suing a man he claims became intoxicated and caused a car collision after suddenly grabbing the vehicle's gear shift from the passenger seat.

Daniel L. Hoerchler filed his lawsuit on March 27 in Madison County Circuit Court against Robert C. Harlow, alleging negligence.

The original complaint originally filed in January 2014 and was later voluntarily dismissed on Jan. 9, 2014. The case is now being re-filed within the one-year time period required by law, the suit states.

According to the complaint, Hoerchler and Harlow attended a social event on or about Jan. 10, 2012. Harlow allegedly became intoxicated and asked Hoerchler, who was not impaired, to drive his vehicle for him.

The suit states that while the plaintiff was in the driver’s seat, navigating the defendant’s Mitsubishi Eclipse on Lower Marine Road in Marine Township, Harlow grabbed the vehicle’s gearshift from the passenger seat and allegedly caused the car to go off the road and crash.

The complaint asserts that the defendant breached his duty not to interfere with the proper operation of the vehicle; and that he was guilty of negligence by clutching the gearshift, causing the vehicle to leave the road, interfering with vehicle operation, becoming belligerent and combative and allowing himself to become intoxicated when he knew, or should have known, that he would become belligerent and combative.

Hoerchler complains of injuries sustained in the incident, along with pain and suffering, medical expenses, disability and lost wages and earning capacity.

The plaintiff seeks damages in excess of $50,000, plus attorneys’ fees and costs. He is represented in the case by D. Jeffrey Ezra of Ezra and Associates of Collinsville.

Madison County Circuit Court case number 15-L-401

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