Ohio Dram Shop Law: Bar Liability for Alcohol Injuries and Death
Horseshoe Casino was recently cited by the Ohio Liquor Control Commission for selling beer to a visibly intoxicated person who was at-fault for a car accident that killed a local man. The Cincinnati Police Department and Ohio Highway Patrol investigation revealed that the at-fault driver in the I-275 car crash fatality, Cory Lippmeier, was traveling at speeds that approached 140 miles per hour before striking a vehicle from behind and killing Scott E. Petredis. Despite wearing a seatbelt and having no fault in the car accident, Mr. Petredis was killed. Lippmeier is currently being held in the Hamilton County Justice Center on a $500,000 bond and is charged with two counts of vehicular homicide under Ohio Revised Code 2903.06.
There is no amount of money that can compensate a family for the senseless loss of life that occurred in this case but a wrongful death lawsuit can help cover expenses and lost future income. In many drunk driving car accident cases, the at-fault driver has little or no insurance. In this case, however, it is highly likely that the Petredis family will be able to recover not only from the at-fault driver, but also from the Casino for a few reasons.
Dram shop liability places an obligation on bars and restaurants that serve beer, wine and liquor. Under Ohio Revised Code section 4399.18, a business can be liable for actions of an intoxicated person occurring off the premises if the following two things can be shown by a preponderance of the evidence: (1) an employee sold alcohol to an underage person or a noticeably intoxicated person, and (2) the person’s intoxication proximately caused the injury or death. The law is intended to make liquor establishments more cognizant of the people they serve. Specifically, the law tries to prevent bars and restaurants from serving underage people and noticeably intoxicated patrons. This helps protect the public by placing responsibility on establishments that serve alcohol. It is, however, rare for an establishment to be cited by the Liquor Commission for over-serving patrons. This case is different and we expect a good recovery for the Petredis family.
At Rittgers Rittgers & Nakajima we have experience representing individuals who have been accused of alcohol related accidents. We also have vast experience representing injured individuals and families who are victims of drunk driving. We know both sides and can anticipate the arguments for each. If you would like to discuss a potential case, please contact us.