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  • Galfand Berger – Philadelphia Personal Injury Attorneys Secure Recovery In Dram Shop Lawsuit

    By Arthur Bugay, Esq.

    multi vehicle car accident on Pennsylvania highwayEver heard of a dram shop lawsuit? Mindy was driving home from college to visit her parents when her car was struck by a drunk driver.  A blood sample revealed his blood alcohol level to be 0.32% wt./vol., nearly four (4) times higher than the legal limit.  He later pleaded guilty to multiple driving offenses, including Driving Under the Influence (“DUI”) and Reckless Endangerment with a Motor Vehicle.  All of this did little for Mindy, who suffered multiple head injuries in the accident.  Adding insult to her injury was the fact that the drunk driver had no assets and little insurance coverage for the damages he caused.  Investigation revealed that the drunk driver had gone to a local bar twice that day, first to consume 5-6 beers, while there, and purchasing beer to go, which he took with him while he went fishing.  And then, later, on his way home, he stopped by to consume a minimum of twelve beers.  He was served this alcohol while he was visibly intoxicated.  At the accident scene, he did not suffer any injury.  However, he was staggering; he slurred his words; his eyes were glassy and he displayed other obvious signs of being drunk.

    The bar that served the driver violated Pennsylvania’s Dram Shop law, which uses the name “Dram” from England, where alcohol was sold by the “spoonful”, a “dram” unit of measure.  Bars and restaurants serve alcoholic beverages pursuant to a liquor license – the state’s permission for the business to sell alcohol.  By serving a visibly intoxicated person, the Bar had violated Pennsylvania law:

    It shall be unlawful . . . [f]or any licensee . . . or any employee, servant or agent of such licensee . . . or any other person, to sell, furnish or give any liquor or malted or brewed beverages, or to permit any liquor or malted or brewed beverages to be sold, furnished or given, to any person visibly intoxicated, or to any insane person, or to any minor, or to habitual drunkards, or to persons of known untempered habits.

    47 P.S. Section 4-493(1).  See also, 47 P.S. Section 4-497. Serving alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person is a proper basis for punitive damages because this displays a reckless indifference to the safety of others.  As the Pennsylvania Superior Court has stated:

    Automobiles represent the most lethal and deadly weapons today entrusted to our citizenry.  When automobiles are driven by intoxicated drivers, the possibility of death and serious injury increases substantially.  Every licensed driver is aware that driving while under the influence of intoxicating liquor presents a significant and very real danger to others in the area.

    Focht v. Rabade, 268 A.2d 157 (Pa. Super. 1970); Tuski v. Ivyland Café, LTD., 2004 Phila. Ct. Com. Pl. LEXIS 91 (Phila. 2004), aff’d 888 A.2d 19 (Pa. Super. 2005).

    Recently, Galfand Berger, LLP was able to secure a favorable settlement for Mindy from the bar identified herein.  This is after obtaining the driver’s full tendered policy and payment from her Underinsured Motorist Policy.  Dram shop liability extends to bars that serve college students who have not reached drinking age.  It also provides liability where drunken patrons injure others at bars and dance clubs.  If you or others you know are injured by a drunk driver , call us. We can help. To speak with a personal injury lawyer at Galfand Berger , call 1-800-222-USWA (8792) or contact us online.

    1-800-222-USWA (8792)