As a trial attorney I am often asked what if any responsibility a bar or restaurant may have for serving an impaired patron who later injures another party. Clients are shocked to find out that it is not easy to assign liability to an establishment and that Florida has a stature that addresses such claims.
In general the Florida legislature passed Florida Statute 768.125 which restricts liability to two limited exceptions. The first, when the liquor was furnished to a minor and the second, when the liquor was furnished to a “habitual drunkard.” Under this statutory scheme the Plaintiff is required to prove the employees who furnished the alcohol had knowledge that the patron was an alcoholic or addicted when they served him.
This statue often limits the injured party’s ability to recover as the bar is set very high. As an example it is not enough to just prove that the defendant served alcohol to an a patron that was obviously intoxicated but rather must prove addiction and thus a “habitual drunkard”.
The Fifth District Court of Appeals recently issued an opinion from an appeal that addressed the habitual drunkard exception to Florida Statute 768.124. (Evans v. McCabe, So.3d, 40 FLW D863 (Fla. 5th DCA 4-10-2015). Within the opinion the appellate court cites different evidence the Plaintiff supplied to establish the defendant was a habitual drunkard which included the use of affidavits of witnesses and experts.
In the event you face a case where you or a loved one have been injured by a defendant’s intoxication we invite you to call Givens Givens Sparks for a case evaluation.