North Carolina Appellate Court Upholds Jury Verdict for Defense in Dram Shop Liability Act based on Lack of Sufficient Evidence

Drunk driving crashes can result in devastating injury accidents. Drunk drivers are often unaware of the road conditions around them and have reduced reaction time due to being intoxicated. If you are injured in a drunk driving accident, then you may have a claim against the person who was driving the vehicle that hit your vehicle. North Carolina also recognizes the dram shop liability doctrine, which holds certain entities like bars, hotels, and restaurants, liable if they overserve a patron and allow him or her to leave and get behind the wheel of a vehicle. If you believe that the driver who caused your injuries came from such an establishment, then it is worth looking into a potential cause of action against it. Attorney Jason Burton is prepared to assist you with all phases of your claim including investigating and gathering evidence to ensure that you hold the right people responsible.

Recently, an appellate court in North Carolina issued an opinion in a case that involved a cause of action against a restaurant based on the state’s dram shop liability statute. The defendant named in the complaint was the owner of a series of restaurants that were franchised throughout North Carolina. The defendant provided information to the franchisees on what intoxication looked like and how to prevent it. Also named as a defendant in the action was a patron who routinely spent time at one of the restaurant locations. According to allegations in the complaint, during a period of roughly seven hours, he was served between 13 to 15 alcoholic drinks. The complaint also alleged that one server was primarily responsible for providing him these drinks and that her shift ended before the restaurant closed. Another server took her place and determined that the patron should be cut off from ordering more beverages. This server also provided food for the patron to eat to offset some of his intoxication. After consuming the food, the patron left the restaurant and caused a motor vehicle accident to occur on Interstate 26.

The plaintiff asserted a negligent supervision claim in his complaint alleging that the restaurant did not properly supervise employees, specifically the two who served the intoxicated man, when it came to how many drinks they were providing. The restaurant moved for a directed verdict on the negligent supervision claim and the court granted it, finding that the complaint did not provide enough evidence to suggest that the servers were incompetent. The dram shop liability claim went to the jury, which ultimately concluded that the restaurant was not responsible for the accident and the plaintiff appealed. The basis of the appeal was that the jury instructions provided to the jury were inappropriate. The plaintiff had requested a set of special jury instructions, but the appellate court concluded that they were not appropriate and that the lower court did not make an error in failing to provide them to the jury.

The plaintiff also appealed on the basis that dismissal of the negligent supervision cause of action was an error. The appellate court reasoned that this claim was duplicative of the dram shop liability claim. Because the jury had found that the restaurant was not liable based on the dram shop liability claim, the plaintiff suffered no prejudice in having the negligent supervision claim dismissed.

If you were hurt in a car accident in North Carolina, or by an intoxicated driver, Attorney Burton is prepared to help you fight for the outcome that you deserve. He understands how stressful and overwhelming this situation can be for someone who is dealing with severe injuries and will work zealously on your behalf. He provides a free consultation to help you learn more about his services and your potential claim. Call him now at 1-833-623-0042 (toll-free) or 1-919-720-4447 (local) or contact him online to get started.

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