Posh Pennsylvania Resort Founder to Pay $200,000 in Lawsuit

May 2, 2014

The millionaire founder of 84 Lumber has agreed to pay $200,000 to settle some claims in a lawsuit filed by the parents of a teenager who died in a drunken driving crash after a party at his posh southwestern Pennsylvania resort.

Claims against the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort will continue even if a judge approves the settlement offer by Joe Hardy and his daughter, Paige. The partial settlement is detailed in a document filed Monday in Fayette County Common Pleas Court by attorney Thomas Crenney, who represents the dead boy’s parents, Daniel and Tricia Nelson.

Daniel and Tricia Nelson, of Chalk Hill, sued the Hardys, the resort and the teen driver who crashed on a resort road after drinking with their son and others at the party in September 2011. The crash killed 17-year-old Zack Nelson and injured several other teens, including Paige Hardy.

Police said the blood-alcohol level for 17-year-old driver Steven DiCenzo was nearly 0.14 percent, well above the 0.08 percent limit for adult drivers and nearly seven times the legal limit for teen drivers, who are considered legally intoxicated at 0.02 percent.

DiCenzo’s case was handled in juvenile court. He was sentenced to 45 days in a rehabilitation facility and was ordered to undergo counseling and be confined to his home for 180 days with an electronic ankle bracelet.

The Nelsons’ case against DiCenzo is ongoing.

The Hardys aren’t admitting wrongdoing in the settlement, which must still be approved by a county judge. Their attorney, M. Scott Gemberling, declined to comment Wednesday, saying the settlement is confidential.

Crenney said the Nelsons agreed to settle with the Hardys because, under Pennsylvania law, both were likely to be dismissed from the case.

A judge in August had already ruled Paige Hardy wasn’t liable under a law that shields minors who serve alcohol to other minors. Under state law, Joe Hardy would be liable only if he were present to provide the alcohol, which he was not, Crenney said.

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