After the death of Lexa Cleland, there were many milestones.
First came the arrest of the drunken driver who killed her in December 2010, then his sentencing 16 months later and, finally, this week, the $15.6 million settlement with the South Side restaurant that served him the alcohol.
Mark and Nicole Cleland said Wednesday that they hoped the denouement of the legal battle with Hofbrauhaus would give them "a sense of an end of a chapter" in the death of their 7-year-old daughter.
"We actually are both more stressed out," Mr. Cleland said at a news conference, where the couple also talked about their progress, forgiveness and hopes. "It's tough to deal with right now."
In addition to the payout, the German-themed restaurant has agreed to a number of changes to try to reduce customer intoxication and drunken driving -- "unprecedented" modifications that attorney Jack Goodrich said were of chief importance to the family.
"This case is not merely about money," Mr. Goodrich said. "Money is not going to bring this family back together."
Mr. Cleland noted the importance of those changes.
"But for Nicole and I, now that there's a dollar figure, it's kind of like blood money, and there's a lot of guilt that goes along with that right now," Mr. Cleland said.
On the night of Dec. 4, 2010, Lexa Cleland was asleep in the back seat as her mother drove on East Carson Street on the South Side to pick up her husband from work. The girl was killed instantly when Ms. Cleland's car was hit by one driven by Travis Isiminger of Holbrook, Greene County.
Ms. Cleland, who was pregnant, had a miscarriage and suffered severe injuries, including a shattered pelvis.
Today, she walks with a cane, lives in constant pain and must have a hip replacement, among other surgeries. Mr. Cleland said both he and his wife have suffered health problems as of late.
Isiminger, now 25, pleaded guilty to homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence and was sentenced to six to 12 years in prison. Mr. Goodrich said he had consumed at least six liters of beer and several shots that night.
Asked what she remembers from that night, Ms. Cleland said, "Everything, unfortunately."
Her voice breaking, she said she never blacked out and still recalls the details, including some of the most nightmarish.
"The worst thing I remember is hearing my daughter cry -- and not hearing anything else from the other," she said.
The couple's then 11-month-old daughter, now 3 years old, was not injured.
"Now that a settlement has been reached, the Hofbrauhaus owners, managers and staff want to publicly express their deepest apology and sympathy to the Cleland family for their tragic loss of life and severe injuries to Mrs. Cleland," the company said in a statement.
"... The Hofbrauhaus in consultation with the Cleland family has established additional procedures to be more diligent in promoting responsible consumption of alcoholic beverages. Hopefully this settlement will bring some degree of closure to the family and give them the comfort of knowing that it will provide for their future needs."
The settlement pays $8.9 million to Nicole Cleland; $500,000 to Mark Cleland; $2.1 million to the estate of Lexa Cleland; and just over $4 million to their attorneys.
Mr. Cleland said the family will invest some of the money, put some toward a house. They're also discussing starting a program that would help people who are too drunk to drive home, though it's still in the early stages.
Under the settlement agreement, the Hofbrauhaus will now require its staff to be certified in Responsible Alcohol Management Program training through an approved Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board trainer.
Responsibility for identifying intoxicated guests will be included in job descriptions for security personnel. In addition, the restaurant will establish guidelines for responsible alcohol service and disseminate those to employees.
A new point-of-sales system will provide individual checks so they know how much alcohol each customer is getting. It also will provide water to guests to slow alcohol consumption; will establish a designated-driver program providing complimentary nonalcoholic beverages; and will provide free light food for guests who appear to be intoxicated.
And for intoxicated guests who cannot secure safe transportation, the Hofbrauhaus will call a cab, and if necessary, pay the fare. If the person refuses to wait for it, a manager or security personnel must report the person to police.
Correction: Hofbrauhaus will provide free nonalcoholic beverages to designated drivers as part of a $15.6 million lawsuit settlement agreement. An earlier version of this story incorrectly listed the restaurant's offerings. (Published July 24, 2013)
Molly Born: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1944 or on Twitter @borntolede. Staff writer Alex Zimmerman contributed. First Published May 8, 2013 4:45 AM