Owners of bars and other establishments that serve liquor to intoxicated patrons have certain liabilities under Pennsylvania’s Dram Shop Acts. The state legislature has decided that serving intoxicated patrons more alcohol amounts to negligent conduct, which is why legal liability can be imposed if the over-serving results in someone being injured or killed.
In a recent example of a Dram Shop lawsuit, the father of a Philadelphia man who died in a car accident after drinking at a gentleman’s club in the city has filed suit against the owner of the establishment. The wrongful death claim accuses Club Risque of over-serving the man and then allowing him to drive home around 2 a.m.
The fatal accident at issue occurred on Sept. 8, 2012, after the Philadelphia man was drinking heavily at Club Risque. The man apparently got only about a mile from the bar when he was involved in a wreck while traveling northbound on Interstate 95. The man was ejected from the vehicle and suffered a massive head injury that left him dead.
The lawsuit charges that prior to the accident, the man withdrew $100 from the club ATM on three separate occasions between 10:15 p.m. and 1:55 a.m., and spent that cash on alcohol at the club. Additionally, the man purchased shots of alcohol from “shot girls” employed by the club throughout the night.
Even though the man was visibly intoxicated, bartenders and shot girls continued to serve the man, the lawsuit alleges. Even though the man was in an extreme state of intoxication before leaving the club around 2 a.m., none of the employees at the club attempted to stop the man from driving.
Under the state’s Dram Shop laws and under the theory of respondeat superior, the man’s father charges that the owner of the club should be held liable for the medical expenses and other damages related to his son’s death. The theory of respondeat superior holds an employer liable for the negligent actions of employees.
Source: Pennsylvania Record, “Phila. gentleman’s club faces wrongful death complaint by father of deceased patron,” Jon Campisi, March 10, 2013