Dram shop laws in 31 states, including Kentucky, hold establishments liable when visibly drunk patrons are served alcohol and they cause harm. Mainly these cases involve vehicle accidents but can also include injuries caused by fights that the customer starts and damage done to property.
Here are some dram shop cases from courts around the US. The places, injuries, and people involved are different, but they have some things in common – someone intoxicated is sold more drinks, they leave and cause harm.
Florida Jury Verdict Third Highest in Vehicle Accident History
A Miami-Dade jury awarded $95 million in damages plus attorneys’ fees to a South Florida family in 2022. Noel Criales’ and Elisa Diaz’ daughter Carmen was killed, and their son Brian suffered severe traumatic brain injuries in an accident caused by a drunk driver, Franklin Chavez, in 2015.
The jury found one defendant, Georgetown Partnership, which owned a Miami bar, was negligent when its employees served drinks to Chavez. The business was ordered to pay almost $59 million for Brian’s medical care and $37 million in damages to the plaintiffs, according to the Insurance Journal.
After hours of drinking, Chavez drove more than 70 mph the wrong way on Interstate 95, with his lights off at night, before hitting the Criales’ vehicle head-on. Chavez was sentenced in 2017 to seven years in prison for causing the accident and driving under the influence. Carmen was on her way to medical school at the time.
Only two vehicle accident verdicts involve larger awards. There was a $1 billion verdict in 2021 against two trucking companies and a $120 million verdict in another truck accident case.
North Carolina Couple Severely Injured, Pregnant Woman Loses Her Child
While driving home in October 2010, Matt Eastridge and his pregnant wife, Meredith, were struck by a vehicle driven by David Huffman. Police state that at the time, his blood-alcohol content was nearly three times the legal limit, and he drove more than 100 mph.
Before the accident, Huffman left a bar, Eddie’s Place Restaurant and Bar, in south Charlotte. It served him at least ten drinks in over slightly more than two hours, reports USA Today.
A Charlotte jury returned a $1.7 million verdict against Eddie’s Place last year. They found the restaurant negligently served alcohol to Huffman, who they knew or should have known was intoxicated. The defendant’s attorney claimed bar employees arranged for someone else to drive him home, but he drove away in his vehicle.
The Eastridges spent more than a month in the hospital. Meredith lost 40% of her blood and the baby. They both had extensive surgeries and lengthy therapy.
Lawsuit Alleges Mississippi Man Beaten to Death By Drunk Restaurant Patron
An amended wrongful death lawsuit was filed earlier this year by K.C. Cooper’s mother, Madonna Steele, against Timothy Turner, who is accused of killing him, and a Tupelo restaurant, Steele’s Dive, which is accused of serving Turner after he was visibly intoxicated. Turner was arrested for beating Cooper in the restaurant’s parking lot and faces first-degree murder charges.
Turner was waiting outside the restaurant and bar in the early hours of April 16, 2022, according to police. Cooper walked toward the parking lot, Turner assaulted him, knocked him to the ground, and repeatedly punched him in the face. Turner drove away, returned, and continued to assault Cooper while he was on the ground, according to the Daily Journal.
The initial lawsuit filed in 2022 claimed Steele’s Dive and its security staff knew, or should have known, there was a conflict between Turner and Cooper and failed to protect Cooper. The amended complaint adds a dram shop liability claim. It alleges Steele’s Dive breached its legal duty to stop serving visibly intoxicated patrons.
Steele’s Dive is accused of serving numerous alcoholic drinks to Turner, who was obviously drunk. The plaintiff’s attorney stated the new allegations are the result of interviews conducted as a part of his investigation.
Drunk Driver Accused of Destroying Texas Business
Two business owners remodeling a building are suing an Odessa man, Dario Jesus Orona, who they claim destroyed it after driving into it while drunk. The case involves dram shop claims against two defendants accused of serving him alcohol though he was visibly intoxicated, reports the Odessa American.
The lawsuit claims Orona, and another defendant, Ariel Sandate, were drunk when they came into a Buffalo Wild Wings. It’s accused of encouraging Orona to buy drinks and allowing him to get into his vehicle despite the fact he was obviously intoxicated. Orona then allegedly went to the Agave Bar, where he continued to drink. The lawsuit states Orona was a danger to himself and others, but employees allowed him to leave.
Orona later drove halfway through the plaintiffs’ building, which was being renovated for a new business. The plaintiffs allege they couldn’t secure the building. It was later vandalized and looted. The City of Odessa later condemned and leveled it. The lawsuit seeks $1 million in damages.
Speak With An Experienced Dram Shop Lawyer
Our attorneys have decades of experience handling negligence claims and can help you with this critical legal matter. To discuss your dram shop liability, claim with a knowledgeable lawyer in Louisville, contact our law offices online or call us at 502-589-5600 (toll-free at 855-385-9532).