FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 16, 2020
Contact:Eric W. Boyer, Esq.
305.670.1101 Ext. 1023
ARIZONA APPEALS COURT TOSSES JURY VERDICT AGAINST CLUB ACCUSED OF OVERSERVING ALCOHOL
Dram Shop Liability – Lack of Proximate Causation
PHOENIX ― In February 2019, QPWB Partner, Dominique Barrett and a former associate, together with Darrell Barger of Hartline Barger, tried a dram shop case in Arizona arising out of an accident in which a patron of Jaguar’s Club drove his pickup into a vehicle stopped at a red light at 86 m.p.h. at 5:14 a.m., killing both occupants of the car. The driver was convicted of DUI and manslaughter. The family of the decedents sued the driver and Jaguar’s for common law negligence, negligence per se, dram shop liability and punitive damage. The jury returned a $2M verdict for Plaintiffs, finding Jaguar’s 40% at fault with no punitive damages award.
Prior to trial, Jaguar’s filed a motion for summary judgment on the issue of intervening superseding cause as the driver of the vehicle went home after drinking at Jaguar’s and went to bed for an hour. He was later woken up by his girlfriend to take her friend home. The accident occurred on the return drive home. Jaguar’s argued the fact that the driver made it safely home to a place of repose cut off any ongoing liability on the part of the club because the driver’s decision to drive after arriving safely home was an intervening superseding cause that broke the chain of causation between Jaguar’s negligence and the plaintiff’s injuries. The trial court denied the motion for summary judgment. The court also denied Jaguar’s motion for directed verdict.
On July 16, 2020, the Arizona Court of Appeals issued a decision reversing the trial court’s judgment and rendering judgment for our client – Jaguar’s; holding that the driver’s being awakened and his decision to drive again after previously arriving safely home, getting into bed, and going to sleep, was an intervening, superseding cause that cut off Jaguar’s liability. The Court of Appeals reversed the superior court’s judgment against Jaguar’s.
This is a significant decision for club and bar owners who regularly send intoxicated patrons home in cabs or Uber cars. The Court of Appeals made it clear that once the patron arrives at a place of repose, liability for subsequent negligent acts of a patron ends.
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Dominique Barrett is a partner in the firm’s Arizona office. She has extensive first chair jury trial experience with 28 years focusing on litigation, trials and arbitrations. Ms. Barrett is licensed to practice law in Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico. Her practice includes the areas of wrongful death, automobile accidents, premises liability, medical malpractice defense, long-term care, products liability, pharmaceuticals, and professional liability. She received her law degree from the University of Denver College of Law in 1992.
Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer, P.A., is the largest minority and women owned law firm in the nation with 23 offices in the U.S. and abroad across a spectrum of industries in over 40 areas of practice. Our lawyers provide representation in litigation, business, real estate and governmental law.