Dram Shop liability. Wrongful Death of Innocent 3rd Party (NC Attorney)

Another example of dram shop liability is described below. This occurred in Washington State.

Dram Shop is a law that places a burden on the bar/restaurant serving alcohol not to continue serving an intoxicated person (drunk).

The statute specifically says:

North Carolina Statutes-- Chapter 18B. Regulation of Alcoholic Beverages-- Article 3. Sale, Possession, and Consumption

Current through 2010 Legislative Session

§ 18B-305. Other prohibited sales

(a) Sale to Intoxicated Person. - It shall beunlawful for a permittee or his employee or for an ABC store employee toknowingly sell or give alcoholic beverages to any person who is intoxicated.

History.1937, c. 49, ss. 11, 15; c. 411; 1971, c. 872, s. 1; 1977, 2nd Sess., c. 1138, s. 5; 1981, c. 412, s. 2; 1999-462, s. 5.

NOTE: This has been on the books since 1937, with several amendments of the decades.

This is a strict liability matter. There is a public policy reason for the creation of this act: drunk drivers are a danger to third parties (pedestrians, persons in other vehicles). The bar is selling the product that intoxicates and affects a consumers ability to make good decisions. Thus, the bar, as profit taker, has responsibility not to send the drunk person onto the roads.

The Tacoma Washington Article: Driver, Sumner bar sued in fatality

A youth pastor killed in a car wreck might still be alive had a Sumner bar not overserved the drunken driver who ran into him.

That’s the claim made by the estate of Samuel Stephens in a lawsuit filed last month in Pierce County Superior Court.

The suit seeks unspecified damages from Captain Jack’s Bar and Grill and its owners. It also names as a defendant Joseph P. McNeil, the driver convicted of killing Stephens.

The bar’s owners – Lee and Penny Hogenson and Horst and Janice Vierthaler – have hired Seattle attorney Ronald Trompeter to defend them. Pierce County attorney Patrick Duffy represents Stephens’ estate.

Efforts to reach Trompeter for comment were unsuccessful.

Stephens, 24 and a resident of the Graham area, died Sept. 6, 2010. He was driving on Stewart Road in Pacific about 2 a.m. when McNeil’s car crossed the center line and hit him.

Stephens was engaged to be married at the time of his death and was working at a Bonney Lake church.

McNeil pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide and in April was sentenced to two years, seven months in prison. As part of his plea deal, he admitted being under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash.

He consumed his alcohol – way too much of it – at Captain Jack’s, the lawsuit contends.

“Over the course of many hours, owners and/or employees of defendant ... sold numerous alcoholic beverages that were consumed by defendant McNeil,” the lawsuit states. “McNeil eventually departed in the early-morning hours of Sept. 6, 2010, in an obviously intoxicated condition.”

The plaintiffs contend Captain Jack’s staff served McNeil too much to drink and let him drive away even though he was obviously drunk. The lawsuit contends the defendants failed to “properly instruct, educate and supervise their employees to avoid selling alcoholic beverages to obviously intoxicated patrons.”

Author: Adam Lynn: 253-597-8644 


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