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Western Pennsylvania Police Chief Files Dram Shop Lawsuit

Here in Pennsylvania, businesses that serve alcohol can be held accountable when they serve alcohol to people who are already intoxicated, or to people who are not of legal drinking age, who then go on to injure themselves or others as a result. Dram shop laws in Pennsylvania are fairly complex, but in general bars, restaurants and clubs may be liable for injuries and losses that occur after they knowingly over-serve patrons.

A police chief of a western Pennsylvania town has recently filed a lawsuit against a bar and its owner, accusing the bar of over-serving his son, resulting in the 26-year-old’s death.

According to a news report, Billy’s Roadhouse in McCandless Township held “Billy’s Winter Beer Olympics” in January. The son of the West View police chief attended the binge drinking event, which began as early as 11 a.m.

The young man stayed at the event for about seven hours, before leaving in a car. He struck a concrete barrier after leaving the bar and he did not survive.

Under Pennsylvania’s dram shop laws, people need to be able to prove that a bar or business served a certain patron even though it was clear that the patron was unfit to drive or beyond the legal limit.

Of course, indicators of intoxication are often disputed in such cases.

In this particular lawsuit, the police chief is arguing that having an event like the beer olympics actually promotes binge drinking.

The future of this lawsuit is unknown, but it is an example of the legal recourse that may be available to Philadelphia area residents who suffer injuries or losses in alcohol-related incidents.

Source: myfoxphilly.com, “Pa. chief sues over alleged binge-drinking event,” July 1, 2013