DRAM SHOP ACT
RECENT CASE A TWIST ON WHO CAN SUE THE BAR OWNER
As we saw in the previous post on Drunk Driving Lawsuits in New York, an injured person may sue the bar that provided liquor to a visibly intoxicated person, who caused the injury. If the person that was intoxicated injured themselves, the intoxicated person could NOT bring a lawsuit against the New York bar under the Dram Shop Act : The seller of liquor has no obligation to protect a consumer against the consequences of his own voluntary intoxication.
In this case, an injured lady had consumed very much alcohol at a bar, after she had ingested pain medication. When she left the bar, at about 5 AM, she attempted to cross a parkway. She was hit by a car. She sued the owner and driver of the car. (As noted above, she did not have the right to sue the bar that sold her the liquor).
The owner and driver of the car that hit the women then decided to bring the bar owner into the lawsuit. They made the point that the fact their vehicle hit the lady was due, in some significant way, to the fact that the bar allowed the lady to become excessively inebriated. Here, we have someone other than an injured party, seeking to make a bar owner partially or totally responsible for an injury, under the Dram Shop Act !
The trial (lower) court said this was NOT valid under the Dram Shop law. The Appeals Court (higher court) said it WAS a proper application of the intent of the Dram Shop law, and allowed the case to go forward !
The higher court ruled that the Dram Shop Act’s intention was to protect the communities of New York from the dangers that intoxicated people can cause the community, and allowing this lawsuit would further that intent.
It is interesting to see how the Dram Shop Laws will play out in the recent case against a New York City Police Officer Accused of Drunk Driving and Killing A Ministers Daughter in Brooklyn.