I recently completed a 2 week dram shop case in which the parties agreed to a settlement on the 10th day of trial. It was a hard case emotionally because the client had lost an arm in a drunk driving accident and committed suicide 2 years later. Despite confirmation that a hotel manager had sold liquor to 19 year olds from both eyewitnesses and business records, the hotel did not make any serious effort to resolve the case until trial. A significant factor in settlement was the health of my client's father who was acting as personal representative and become the client.
Sometimes you have to play your entire hand. See http://www.junelawyer.com/