State Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Plaintiff in Dram Shop DUI Wrongful Death Case

The Supreme Court of Massachusetts recently released an opinion affirming a district court’s ruling that a plaintiffs’ lawsuit against a restaurant regarding the DUI-related death of their family member could proceed. The defendant had argued that the plaintiffs submitted an insufficient affidavit to make a claim against a provider of alcoholic beverages, but both courts disagreed with the defendant’s arguments, and the case will continue to be heard.

Wine BottlesPlaintiffs’ Family Member Dies after Allegedly Being Served an Excessive Amount of Alcohol by the Defendant

According to the plaintiffs’ complaint, their family member died in a single-car DUI accident after he had spent hours at a restaurant and bar operated by the defendant. The plaintiffs claim that an employee of the defendant repeatedly served the driver alcoholic beverages, knowing that he was extremely intoxicated and that he would be driving home. The claim, made under a state law known as the Dram Shop Act, is allowed against third parties who knowingly serve alcohol to a visibly intoxicated patron who later causes an injury or death while driving drunk. Several states have various forms of dram shop laws, which have been enacted to discourage dangerous serving practices at restaurants and bars across the country.

The Defendant’s Request to Dismiss the Case Is Rejected

Once the plaintiffs’ case was filed, the defendants asked the court to dismiss it, arguing that an affidavit attached to a Dram Shop Act claim must be based on personal knowledge rather than simply information and belief. Both the district court and the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled that an affidavit based on knowledge and belief is sufficient to prevent the claim from being dismissed, and any irregularities or discrepancies in the facts can be decided by a judge or jury at a later point in the case. Based on the rulings, the plaintiffs’ claim will be allowed to proceed toward a trial or settlement.

Dram Shop Laws in South Florida

Florida Statutes Section 768.125 contains a dram shop law that is similar to that which was used to seek liability in the above case. Florida’s law allows for a third party to be sued for damages caused by alcohol that they knowingly served to another person who is “habitually addicted” to alcohol. Unlike the law in Massachusetts and many other states, however, the Florida law does not contain a provision that creates liability for a third party when serving to a customer who is visibly intoxicated.

Although Florida’s dram shop law is not as favorable to plaintiffs as those in other states, a skilled South Florida DUI injury attorney may be able to make a case against a third party for serving to an intoxicated person who subsequently causes an accident resulting in an injury or death, since intoxication may be used as evidence of a habitual addiction. South Florida DUI injury victims should consult with a qualified Miami accident attorney to assess their case and see if a third party may be liable for their injuries or loss.

How to Find a Qualified Accident Attorney

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a DUI car accident, the experienced Miami accident lawyers at Friedman, Rodman & Frank want to hear what happened. It may be possible to recover damages from a provider of alcohol even if you or your loved one was intoxicated before an accident occurred or criminal charges were filed. Our dedicated and knowledgeable Miami accident attorneys can help you pursue compensation after the negligent acts of others result in an injury or death. At Friedman, Rodman & Frank, we represent clients in Miami and throughout South Florida in personal injury and wrongful death cases, including DUI injury cases. If you have been injured, contact us toll-free at 877-448-8585 or via our online contact form. Se habla Español / Nou Parlé Creole.

More Blog Posts:

State Supreme Court Reverses $4.5 Million Award in Auto Accident Case, April 14, 2016, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog

Judgment in Favor of County Fair Association Affirmed after Plaintiff Injured During Free Fireworks Display, April 21, 2016, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog

Contact Information