Dram Shop Case in Florida Allowed to Proceed: Evans v. McCabeJune 4, 2015 | Category: Wrongful Death | Share
Whenever someone is hurt or killed due to an incident involving alcohol and/or drugs, people want answers. Who can be held responsible for the injuries or death? How can we stop this from happening to someone else in the future? How can the law help us? All of these are common questions to which injured parties and/or their loved ones seek responses.
Quite often, those dealing with alcohol-related incidents know they may have certain legal rights against other individuals. However, as Ft. Myers personal injury attorney Randall Spivey knows, depending on the facts of the situation, the actual establishment that provided the alcohol may also be liable.
A Brief Look at the Dram Shop Act
In Florida, there is a law known as the Dram Shop Act. It allows individuals to sue facilities or establishments that provide or sell alcohol to people who become impaired and subsequently hurt or kill someone else or themselves. Simply stated, the law is a way to hold retailers of alcohol, as well as bars, responsible for the actions of their drunk customers.
Keep in mind, however, that the law is quite specific, such that a claim can only be filed under that law when the impaired individual was either someone who was addicted to alcohol or a minor at the time of the incident. To win such claims, the harmed individual must demonstrate not only that the aforementioned was true, but also that the facility and/or establishment knew or should have known about the individual and it failed to act.
Dram Shop claims are typically brought on behalf of those who have been injured or killed, but they may also be brought by the actual drunk driver or a person representing his or her estate.
Evans v. McCabe Will Proceed
A Florida Court of Appeal recently reviewed the dram shop case of Evans v. McCabe. The defendant, McCabe, is a dram shop that provided alcohol to Jared Evans one night. After drinking at that establishment, Evans crashed his automobile into a tree which resulted in his death.
His mother, Darlene Evans, acted as his personal representative in this case and argued that the staff, employees and agents of McCabe who served alcohol to her son knew or should have known he was addicted to alcohol -- but they served him anyway. The lower court initially dismissed her case; however, the 5th District Court of Appeal is allowing the case to move forward to trial.
As part of Evans' case at the lower court level, testimony was provided by the decedent's family and girlfriend, all of whom stated that Jared was a regular customer of the bar and habitually drank excessive amounts of alcohol when there. Video evidence was also sought to support their claims; however, McCabe had already discarded it. Evans claimed McCabe "spoiled' the evidence, but the trial court still granted McCabe's summary judgment, stating that Evans failed to meet her burden of proof.
The appeals court, however, has reversed that decision, noting there are, in fact, genuine issues of material fact that exist with respect to the main elements of dram shop liability -- was Jared a habitual drunk and did McCabe know it. Those questions will be what the jury needs to decide.
Alcohol-related injuries and deaths can be especially devastating to all involved. Still, families of those who have been hurt or killed because of such incidents have options and rights under the law. If you have questions or concerns about your legal rights as they relate to you or your loved one, contact the Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A. today.