Dram Shop – Summary Judgment

Miami Associate, Gregory Pandolfo and Miami Partner, Daniel Klein obtained final summary judgment in Broward County in favor of a bar and bartender in a Dram shop matter. According to the Plaintiff’s discovery responses, and deposition testimony, he drove to Defendant’s restaurant, consumed alcohol to the point of intoxication, then left the restaurant driving recklessly on Hollywood Boulevard in excess of 120 mph. The Plaintiff ultimately crashed into the back of a shopping center in a single vehicle accident that left him with a shattered pelvis, shattered wrist, and other injuries -- his medical bills exceeded $300,000.

The Plaintiff filed suit under Florida’s Dram shop statute, 768.125, claiming Defendant’s furnished alcohol to him with the knowledge that he was habitually addicted to alcoholic beverages. Specifically, the Plaintiff alleged that he had a close personal relationship with Defendant bartender prior to the subject evening and that she was aware that he was habitually addicted to the consumption of alcohol. The Plaintiff further alleged that on the evening of the subject incident, Defendant bartender invited him to Defendant restaurant when she posted on Facebook asking her followers to “come visit” her. Additionally, the Plaintiff admitted several times at deposition, that his consumption of alcohol was the cause of his single vehicle accident.

Defendants filed their Motion for Summary Judgment under Florida Statute 768.36 (the drug and alcohol defense), arguing Plaintiff admitted that his own intoxication caused the subject incident thereby precluding recovery. Florida Statute 768.36 states that “in any civil action,” a plaintiff may not recover for damages if at the time the plaintiff was injured, the plaintiff was under the influence of alcohol to the extent that their normal faculties were impaired and as a result of the alcohol’s influence, the plaintiff was more than 50 percent at fault for his own harm.

The Plaintiff argued in opposition that any case brought under Florida Statute § 768.125 must be derivative in nature and that comparative liability cannot exist in derivative liability situations, thereby precluding the application of Florida Statute 768.36. The Court found that Florida Statute 768.36, effective as of July 1, 2016, was applicable to civil actions brought under the “habitually addicted to the use alcoholic beverages” exception in Florida Statute 768.125, which went into effect in 1980 – and had remained unchanged since. Therefore, the Court granted final summary judgment in favor of Defendants as the Plaintiff was under the influence of alcoholic beverages to the extent that the Plaintiff's normal faculties were impaired, and that as a result of the influence of such alcoholic beverages, the Court further found that Plaintiff was more than 50 percent at fault for his own harm.

Gregory Pandolfo
(305) 350-5382

Daniel Klein
(305) 350-5361

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