Lawsuit: Mohegan Sun bars at fault in fatal crash

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The family of a 20-year-old Connecticut College student killed in a drunken driving crash has filed a wrongful death suit against the permittee and financial backers of the Mohegan Sun casino bars they claim served drinks to the man responsible for the woman’s death.

At 3:38 a.m. March 7, Elizabeth Y. Durante was in a van headed to the airport for a humanitarian mission to Uganda with a group of students when police said the van was struck by a drunken driver driving the wrong way on Interstate 395 without headlights on. The crash was near Exit 79A, the exit for Mohegan Sun.

Durante, a junior from West Islip, N.Y., was thrown from the van and killed.

Daniel E. Musser, 24, a sailor stationed at the naval submarine base in Groton, faces manslaughter charges in connection with the accident. He told police he was coming from Ultra 88, a club at Mohegan Sun. His criminal case is pending.

The suit filed Tuesday by Durante’s mother, Kathleen H. Durante, names Patrick T. Lyons, of Boston, the permittee of Ultra 88 and Lucky’s Lounge, and Plan B LLC, backer for the clubs. Lyons and a representative from Plan B could not be reached Wednesday for comment.

The suit, filed in New London Superior Court, claims Musser drank at one or both of the clubs while intoxicated before leaving the casino. The suit makes claims under the state’s Dram Shop Law, which allows for penalties of up to $250,000 against the establishment found to have served alcohol to an intoxicated person that later caused a death.

West Hartford lawyer John D. Palermo, who is representing Kathleen H. Durante in the suit, could not be reached Wednesday for comment.

Elizabeth Durante’s death was one of three motor vehicle fatalities in Eastern Connecticut this year linked to drivers coming from Mohegan Sun who police say were drunk at the time of the accidents.

Police said Christopher Brulotte was responsible for the April 5 crash on Interstate 395 in Norwich that killed Iris Soto, 59, of Willimantic. Lisette Oblitas-Cruz, 28, of Port Chester, N.Y., was arrested in connection with a Sept. 20 crash on Route 32 in Montville that killed a 77-year-old Norwich woman.

Both face drunken driving charges.

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