Posted by Tim_Cleveland on March 01, 2002 at 17:50:49:
You probably know by now that your story is not atypical. It happens just liek this all the time. The alcohol your establishment served, worked to intoxicate the peopel involved and they were held repsonsible. In general again, I am not an attorney, Dram Shop Acts in the states (I am pretty sure there is some form of the law in all states)apply to those establishments who are in the business of selling alcohol and who are held more responsible than other establishments and individuals for the safe conduct of their patrons.
On the one hand, it makes sense that if you operate a liquor establishment, allow someone to come in and get totally ripped, you have a responsibility to prevent that trashed person from going out and getting behind the wheel. In your case and in many others there are “mitigating circumatnces” that may effect your percentage liability. In your case they were drag racing, In JT-IN’s they had a coupel at his place and got totally ripped somewhere else. Once again, Dram Shop acts and lawsuit after lawsuit have established that all serving establishments are partially at fault. What is interesting in the original article is that, unless I am mistaken, the hotel did not SERVE the alcohol, but ostensibly “allowed” it to be conumed in an irresponsible manner on their premises. It will be interesting to see hwo it goes, but again, I will give you great odds that the hotel and its insurers will pay a lot.
As you mention, there is a lot to be said about the prospect of “Tort Reform.” I personally go back and forth on the issue. Whiel judgements and legal theories of liability are way out of hand, I am a proud capitalist and free marketeer. I say that if teh market bears $5.50 Black Jack and cokes, that consists of about 50 cents worth of alcohol and with a couple of the dollars going to insurance premiums and lawsuit settelment/judgements, then so be it. But I cringe when a lady gets $4 Million for riding the down the road with hot coffee between her legs because McD’s didn’t warn her that it was very hot. It is all really teh same thing.
Just my thoughts.