What is Dram Shop Liability?
The Dram Shop Liability Law in Florida that says someone who knowingly serves a person “habitually addicted” to alcohol can be liable for injury or damage caused by or resulting from that person’s drunkenness. This is called “Dram Shop” Liability. These cases are very difficult to prove and are usually lengthy, and a battle. To hold an establishment liable you generally have to prove:
- The establishment sold the person alcohol
- The establishment continued to sell alcohol while the person was drunk
- and sometimes prove, the establishment knew the person was driving
In most jurisdictions, dram shop liability laws extend only to protect third parties, not the drunk driver themselves, for example a family member or spouse. In a story that is close to home, last October, Max Holloway, 26, a former star football player at Jefferson High School lost control of his Dodge Charger, veered off the road and crashed into a house. Holloway died from is injuries. His parents have filed a lawsuit against Panini’s Bar and Grill in Lutz as they believe the restaurant is to blame. Holloway was a frequent customer; the lawsuit claims employees knew he was addicted to alcohol, but served him anyway.
In another example, two drunk drivers crashed head-on in Staten Island, New York. A passenger of one of the drivers was left with brain damage and severe injuries. The passenger’s mother who cares for him now filed a lawsuit against both drivers, as the man is now incapacitated. She is also filing suit against the establishments that one of the drivers was drinking in that night. This kind of lawsuit is in civil court and came after the drivers were already convicted on criminal charges.