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Do Dram Shop Liability Laws Apply To Bring Your Own Bottle Establishments?


Late one night, Judith Khouri was driving her friends Benny and Sofie Benyamin home from a party they had attended at a Fort Lauderdale nightclub called Trapeze.  Khouri had been drinking at the party, and so had the two passengers.  As she turned onto Commercial Boulevard, a Honda struck her car.  Benny and Sofie died of injuries they sustained in the accident.  Khouri was convicted of misdemeanor DUI and served 30 days in jail.  Benny and Sofie’s relatives, on behalf of their six-year-old daughter, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Khouri, whose blood alcohol content was 0.14 at the time of the accident.  Khouri’s defense lawyers argued that she bears only some of the responsibility for the accident.  The employees of the nightclub must have known that she was too drunk to drive, but they continued to serve her alcohol for many hours.  It might have been a clear-cut case of dram shop liability, except that Trapeze is a bring your own bottle establishment, meaning that it does not sell alcohol.  If you got injured in a car accident where you were a passenger and the driver had been drinking at a bar, contact a Jacksonville premises liability lawyer.

Dram Shop Liability and Social Host Liability Both Protect People Harmed by Drunk Drivers

Dram shop liability laws are a type of premises liability law; “dram shop” is an old term for an establishment that sells alcohol.  These laws state that, if a bar or restaurant continues to serve alcohol to a customer after the customer is noticeably drunk, and the customer then drives home from the bar and causes an accident, people injured in the accident have the right to sue the bar for negligence.  Even the drunk driver himself or herself can sue the bar.

A related legal concept is social host liability.  According to social host liability laws, if you get drunk at a party at someone else’s house and then drive home, you can sue the party host for negligence.  You must prove that the host knew that you planned to drive but continued to serve you alcohol after you were visibly drunk.  The law assigns greater responsibility to commercial establishments like bars and restaurants than it does to people who host parties at their own residences.

As for bring your own bottle establishments, their employees are still aware of how much alcohol customers are drinking.  For example, Trapeze, the nightclub where Judith Khouri and Benny and Sofie Benyamin drank on the night of the accident, provides wine glasses and ice cubes, and club employees pour the drinks for customers.  Therefore, it is likely that either dram shop liability or social host liability applies.

Contact Douglas & Douglas About Premises Liability Cases

A North Florida personal injury lawyer can help you collect damages for your accident-related injuries if you got injured in an accident caused by a drunk driver who had been drinking at a bring your own bottle establishment.  Contact Douglas & Douglas in Jacksonville, Florida for a free consultation.



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