News Brief

Dalena Obtains Summary Judgment in Dram Shop Liability Case

August 20, 2019

Anne Dalena (Of Counsel-New Jersey) defended a personal injury claim on behalf of a New Jersey restaurant/bar. The 21-year-old plaintiff was working a double shift as a bartender at the establishment when he took advantage of an “on the house” end-of-shift drink policy. He had one beer and then consumed two higher alcohol Canadian beers brought in by his co-worker approximately 54 minutes before driving home. The plaintiff was subsequently involved in a serious one-car accident that left him permanently physically injured and cognitively impaired. The plaintiff sought damages for negligence and dram shop liability. Anne was able to keep the plaintiff from amending the complaint to expand the list of defendants to increase the $1 million insurance limits since the plaintiff never named them in the original complaint. After deposing all the co-workers and each consistently testifying that plaintiff served himself and no one saw him visibly intoxicated, Anne moved for summary judgment. In opposition, the plaintiff agreed to drop the dram shop claim and proceed solely on negligence. After argument, the judge agreed with Anne that the facts involved the service of alcoholic beverage and thus the Dram Shop Statute was the exclusive remedy, and under it all common law claims (negligence, negligent supervision, maintaining a dangerous condition on premises) were subsumed by the Act.

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