Hancock family drops wrongful-death lawsuit

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

ST. LOUIS -- The family of late Cardinals pitcher Josh Hancock on Monday dropped its wrongful-death lawsuit against Mike Shannon's restaurant and others in the player's drunken-driving death in April.

The family's local attorney, Mark Bronson, said he filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit before a procedural hearing got under way Monday in St. Louis Circuit Court. The lawsuit had alleged that others shared responsibility for Hancock's death.

He referred questions to Hancock family attorney Keith Kantack in Tupelo, Miss., who did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

The 29-year-old relief pitcher died after a St. Louis Cardinals home game in April when he crashed his sport utility vehicle into the back of a tow truck stopped on U.S. 40 in St. Louis. The lawsuit was filed a month later by Hancock's father, Dean Hancock.

The motion effectively ends the legal battle, although the lawsuit could be refiled.

The lawsuit alleged that others shared responsibility for Josh Hancock's death, including Mike Shannon's restaurant, where the player drank earlier in the night; restaurant manager Pat Shannon Van Matre; the tow truck driver; the tow truck company; and the driver of a disabled car on the highway whom the tow truck driver had stopped to help.

"That's the end of it," said Don Wolff, attorney for the Shannon family.

"This case never had any merit. It was totally and completely without merit," he said.

He said Missouri law is clear. Only innocent third parties who are injured by a drunken driver can sue a drinking establishment for serving alcohol to an intoxicated person.

Wolff said the decision to withdraw the case was welcome news, especially now.

Judy Shannon, wife of Cardinals broadcaster and former player Mike Shannon, who owns Shannon's Restaurant, died Saturday after a battle with brain cancer.

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