Dram Shop Act Lawsuits

As reported by Alabama.com, an Alabama jury recently found that a nightclub must pay $37 million and a former Birmingham police officer must pay $3.25 million in damages in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of a church music minister killed in a 2009 crash.

James Lenoir Kendrick, an off-duty police veteran, was convicted in 2011 of reckless manslaughter in a drunken driving wreck that killed 35-year-old Derric Rush, who was driving home from a service at his church when the wreck happened.

According to the wrongful death suit, Kendrick and a friend “consumed most of a 750 ml bottle of Crown Royal liquor while sitting in a parked vehicle in the parking lot on the premises of the defendant, Club Volcano. Both of these men became intoxicated. It is believed that this practice was known, condoned and allowed by Defendant Club Volcano.”

According to the suit, Club Volcano “had a duty to the people who travel on public roads not to serve alcohol to an intoxicated person who they know or should know would be driving. It had a duty to act reasonably to protect others from harm through measures and controls to avoid serving the intoxicated patron or to arrange suitable transportation.”

It cites the dram shop act, which imposes civil liability on the owner of an establishment that sells alcoholic beverages to an intoxicated person who then injures another person because he or she is intoxication.

Hospitality Insurance Agency can help protect your bar or nightclub against dram shop act lawsuits by proactively giving your bar or nightclub the tools that can better equip your staff to prevent over serving.

Through our partnership with Nightclub Security Consultants, we can help you develop and implement training and education programs, report writing systems, improve CCTV systems, create policy manuals, assist with hiring, discipline or counseling, and conduct premise liability evaluations.  Not only will these programs will save you 10 – 15% on your insurance premiums, but should your bar or nightclub ever become involved in a dram shop act lawsuit, they would also show that your bar or nightclub had been proactive in preventing over serving.

We are also offering bartender insurance through our Server Insurance Program (also known as SIP) that helps protect bartenders and servers, individually, in any lawsuits resulting from over serving allegations.  If your bar or nightclub proactively helps your bartenders and servers obtain this liability insurance, it would be another step to help protect your bar or nightclub from dram shop act lawsuits.

In an increasingly litigious society, you should have the best armor possible to defend yourself against any lawsuit, including these dram shop act lawsuits.  But better yet, through the tools Hospitality Insurance Agency can help you acquire, you could actually prevent over serving and save lives in the process.