Articles Posted in DRAM Shop

A New Jersey appeals court has ruled that liquor establishments are not sheltered by a state law that prohibits drunk drivers implicated in collisions from suing other parties for damages. According to the New Jersey Law Journal, the 1997 New Jersey drunk driving law provides that a driver convicted of a DUI in connection with an accident “shall have no cause of action for his or her injuries.” However, the appeals court has held that this law does not immunize liquor store establishments from liability if they serve intoxicated patrons and set them loose on the road.

More specifically, the court ruled that the 1997 law did not defeat New Jersey’s Dram Shop Act, which protects the rights of people who suffer damages as a consequence of the negligent service of alcoholic beverages by licensed servers. This decision is believed to be the first by a state appeals court to expressly deprive licensed liquor establishments of immunity in such cases.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident in which alcohol consumption was a contributing factor, you may be entitled to compensation from a negligent server or liquor establishment proprietor. You will need to speak with an experienced New Jersey accident attorney who can help you evaluate the potential liability of third parties under the Dram Shop Act. Dram shop liability refers to the responsibility of a bar, restaurant or other business that provides alcohol to an obviously intoxicated person or a minor who then causes injury to another. If you believe that you may have a claim under New Jersey’s Dram Shop Act, call (609) 240-0040 to speak with one of the thorough and aggressive New Jersey personal injury attorneys at Lependorf & Silverstein.

This is the time of year to party. There are graduation parties, prom parties, cocktail parties, beach parties; just about any party we can imagine. What happens when excessive alcohol or illicit drugs are consumed at a party and the individual who ingests the alcohol or drugs is injured? Is the homeowner’s insurance policy required to provide coverage? This exact question was answered in a recent New Jersey Appellate Division case entitled Flomerfelt v. Cardiello. In this case a twenty-one year old woman attended a party. The woman ingested alcohol and illicit drugs. She lost consciousness and was admitted to the intensive care unit of a local hospital. The issue the Court addressed in this case involved the homeowner’s insurance policy’s requirement to cover this loss. The insurance policy contained a clause that specifically excludes claims for bodily injury that “arise out of the use, sale, manufacture, delivery, transfer or possession by any person of a controlled substance.”

The Court ruled in favor of the insurance company. Exclusions to coverage are to be narrowly construed. The exclusion here is very specific. The plaintiff’s expert in this case testified that marijuana, opiates, cocaine and alcohol were found in the plaintiff’s blood. Because a “controlled substance” had been consumed by the plaintiff, the insurance company did not have to provide coverage to the homeowner. However, if the plaintiff had merely consumed alcohol, the homeowner’s insurance company would have to provide coverage to its insured.

Unfortunately, it is common for individuals to consume excessive amounts of alcohol at parties. They can either become injured at the party or after leaving the party. Homeowners can be responsible for such injuries. If the fact patterns described here are familiar to you, or to someone who is close to you, please contact an attorney at the law firm of Lependorf & Silverstein for a consultation regarding your rights. The Princeton New Jersey personal injury attorneys at the Princeton, New Jersey Law Firm of Lependorf & Silverstein may be able to help. Let our experience counsel you. Please call the law firm of Lependorf & Silverstein today for a consultation regarding your legal rights.

The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled on January 22, 2009 that a licensed alcoholic beverage server has no duty under New Jersey’s Dram Shop Act to monitor consumption of alcohol in cases involving self-service of alcoholic beverages. Typically, the Dram Shop Act provides individuals with a civil remedy if they are injured as a result of negligent service by establishments of excessive alcohol. Such alcohol servers are deemed negligent if they serve a visibly intoxicated individual. The Act does not impose a duty to monitor alcohol ingestion. In the case of Mazzacano v. The Estate of Kinnerman Et. Al., defendant, Happy Hour Social and Athletic Club of Maple Shade Inc. was licensed to dispense alcohol at its annual “Pig Roast.” Guests “self-served” themselves from a beer truck. There were no bartenders. Following the pig roast John A. Kinnerman lost control of his car with three passengers, and all four were killed.

This New Jersey Supreme Court ruling holds that “if a licensed server allows the self-service of alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person who then causes an auto accident proximately related to his intoxicated condition, it can be held accountable under the act.” In this case, Kinnerman was not observed to be visibly intoxicated at the Pig Roast, despite an autopsy that revealed a .181 BAC (blood-alcohol content) level. Based on the lack of visible intoxication, the Trial jury held the Club not liable for the fatal New Jersey drunk driving accident in this case.

If you have been injured in an accident in which alcohol consumption was a contributing factor, you may be able to use New Jersey’s Dram Shop Act to your benefit. Contact a personal injury attorney in New Jersey at the law firm of Lependorf & Silverstein, P.C. for a consultation regarding your rights.