Thursday, March 12, 2009

More on the case against BYOB club for injuries caused by intoxicated patron

Last December I reported on a decision by the Illinois Appellate Court holding that a commercial establishment could be liable for injuries caused by a patron who left the establishment under the influence of alcohol. Today, the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin reports that the establishment has filed a petition for leave to appeal at the Illinois Supreme Court. I have not read the petition itself, but according to the CDLB, the defendant is arguing that ''In this case, both the Circuit Court and the Appellate Court failed to recognize the need for judicial restraint when considering liability as a result of alcohol-related injuries'' and that ''[p]roviding the plaintiffs with a new remedy for alcohol-related injury when the legislature has declined to do so … puts the law into a state of flux because it forces courts to resolve these issues in a confusing and haphazard case-by-case manner.'' Why should the courts exercise restraint when considering alcohol related injuries? The defendant apparently is arguing that ''Because the plaintiffs' cases are undeniably alcohol-related, any cause of action . . . must emanate from the legislature or not at all.'' Why that would be so, I don't know. There is nothing unusual about courts recognizing possible liability for damages caused by conduct related to the use of alcohol. The defendant in this case seems to be arguing that the Legislature preempted the claims by enacting the Dram Shop Act, while at the same time arguing they are not covered by the Act because, in fact, they did not serve the alcohol in question in the case. You can't have it both ways. What makes this case so interesting to me is that it involves a commercial establishment that encourages its patrons to drink alcohol while not actually selling it to them. The facts and issue are also very much like those in a case of a social host. I hope the Supreme Court takes the case. I will be an interesting decision. Stay tuned.

1 comment:

Dave Cole said...

Excellent comment. Why this particular issue call for "judicial restraint" is beyond me as well. Perhaps someone is acting "under the influence" of the liquor lobby.

Dave Cole
Phoenix School of Law