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Alleged drunken driver faces lawsuit

Brandi Butner sues driver in Old Town crash for $3 million


A Fairview woman, who was seriously injured after being struck by an alleged drunken driver in Portland's Old Town area in January, has filed a $3 million lawsuit against the driver.

Brandi Butner, 21, and Rebecca Bray, 20, of Gresham, were standing on the sidewalk waiting for a ride when a pickup, driven by Brent Warstler, hit the two women around 2:30 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 20.

Bray died at the scene, while Butner was rushed to Legacy Emanuel Medical Center with severe injuries, including a broken pelvis.

The lawsuit alleges Warstler, 42, of Cornelius, was driving about double the speed limit and had a blood-alcohol level of 0.20 percent one hour after the crash.

Butner filed the lawsuit in Multnomah County Circuit Court on Monday, Feb. 25, seeking reimbursement for medical expenses and mental damages.

“(Butner) has a long road ahead,” said Scott Kocher, a Portland-based attorney representing Butner. “This is a case about finding out what happened that night and getting Brandi and her family the help they need.”

While Warstler is the only defendant listed on the lawsuit, Kocher is trying to find which restaurants or bars served Warstler on the night of the crash.

Given Warstler's alleged blood-alcohol level, “he was visibly intoxicated” at the time he was served alcohol, which is a violation of Oregon law, the lawsuit alleges.

“We're asking anyone who knew where Brent Warstler was that night to come forward,” Kocher said. “We need to know what happened that night. We need to know where Brent Warstler was drinking.”

Warstler had three passengers in his 2012 Dodge Ram pickup when he ran a red light at the intersection of Northwest Fifth Avenue and Everett Street and collided with a taxi, police said. Warstler's pickup veered onto the sidewalk where it struck Bray and Butner.

Butner has undergone several surgeries since the accident and remains in a rehabilitation center, according to the lawsuit. Doctors don't know if she'll fully recover.

Warstler now faces multiple charges, including third-degree assault and second-degree manslaughter. He was being held in Multnomah County Jail on $297,000 bail, but a judge recently lowered bail to $50,000.

Warstler posted the $5,000 bond and is living with family in Gresham until his trial, which is scheduled for March.



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