“Shot Girls” Lead to Premises Liability Claim

by Bisnar Chase on March 11, 2013

When George Thomas Fadgen III died in a terrible car crash on Interstate 95 in Philadelphia on September 2012, an autopsy revealed his blood alcohol content was .19—more than twice the legal limit in Pennsylvania.  His family is now suing a strip club, “Club Risque,” where Fadgen spent his last hours, claiming that the “shot girls” in these clubs induced him to drink and ignored his obvious intoxication, according to recent reports.

Shot girls are employees of a club who receive a commission on each shot poured.  Therefore, they have a strong incentive to encourage customers to purchase and consume alcohol.

Premises Liability and Dram Shop Law

Strip clubs also fall under the parameters of premises liability law, particularly that portion of it known as “dram shop law.”  Dram shop law requires bartenders and restaurant owners to stop serving visibly intoxicated patrons or to attempt to prevent them from leaving in their vehicles if they are obviously too impaired to drive.  In many cases, employees or owners of bars or restaurants have called the police to report a drunk patron who has left the premises in a vehicle.  This can relieve the establishment from liability if the patron causes an accident.

Dram Shop Liability Lawsuits—Are They Fair?

Should victims or their families be able to sue a restaurant or bar for a customer’s actions?  Dram shop liability law originated in old English common law.  At that time, dram shop or pub owners were required to protect their patrons by removing drunk, hostile people from their premises.  This ensured a safe environment for customers.  However, there was no talk of “drunk driving” as modern automobiles were not in existence at that time.

Since automobiles have become the normal mode of transportation, dram shop liability principles have been extended to include patrons leaving bars in an intoxicated state.  While dram shop liability still covers patrons’ actions on the premises, there is now another angle to this type of liability—what happens on the open road after a person leaves a bar is suddenly the bartender’s concern.

Some people feel that this is an unfair application of dram shop liability law.  The original laws, they point out, were made to protect patrons at a bar where the barkeeper had some control over the actions of those on his premises.  By applying these principles to drivers, some say that the law is punishing business owners for something outside of their control.

However, others argue that it is not very difficult to cut off patrons who are visibly drunk and to call the police if they attempt to drive.  These advocates of a wider application of dram shop liability law point out that a bartender who takes on the responsibility of serving alcohol must also take on the responsibility to protect innocent victims who could be killed through the drinker’s actions.

Can I Sue A Bar or Restaurant for Damages?

If you have been a victim of injury due to a drunk driver, it is important to find out if the driver was served alcohol by an establishment prior to the accident.  A personal injury attorney can help you gather important information such as this and file a lawsuit against the driver or drinking establishment if appropriate.

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