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A jury ruled Monday that entertainer Leif Garrett was...

By
KAREN WEST

LOS ANGELES -- A jury ruled Monday that entertainer Leif Garrett was negligent in a 1979 car accident that left his passenger a quadriplegic and awarded the victim $3.9 million damages.

Roland Winkler, 24, had sought at least $5 million in damages, his attorney Edward Steinbrecher said.

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The Superior Court jury reached its verdict in the third day of deliberations. Both Winkler and Garrett, 23, admitted in court they had been drinking and had taken depressant drugs at a party at Winkler's home before the accident, Steinbrecher said.

The jury found Winkler to be 8 percent negligent because he drove in the car with Garrett knowing the one-time teenage heartthrob had been drinking. Winkler also was not wearing a seatbelt.

Winkler sued Garrett in January 1980, claiming Garrett was at fault in the Nov. 3, 1979, accident that left Winkler paralyzed from the chest down. Steinbrecher said Winkler has 80 percent use of his arms and hands.

Garrett, who has starred in several television shows and motion pictures including 'Three for the Road,' and has released six record albums, suffered only minor cuts in the accident, his attorney, Steven Freeburg said.

Garrett was driving a leased Porsche in Los Angeles when he rearended another car. Garrett's car then rolled down an embankment, crushing Winkler.

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His license was suspended for a year and he was put on probation as a result of the accident, Steinbrecher said.

The jury said Garrett should be responsible for paying $15,000 of the damages because of his negligence. Garrett's insurance company will be responsible for paying the rest of the damages.

Although Steinbrecher was pleased with the jury's verdict, he said it is a message to people who drink and drive.

'This decision not only sets an example for all drunk drivers but for those who drink and drive with somebody drunk. If you are a drunk passenger, you could be liable too,' Steinbrecher said.

Garrett's attorney, Steven Freeburg, said it is up to the insurance company to decide if the case should be appealed.

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