Case Alert: March 27, 2008

Appellate Division Permits Imposition Of Liability Against Tavern For Drunk Driving Of Patron Who Was Not Served Alcohol

Last week a unanimous three judge appellate panel ruled in Bauer v. Nesbitt that a tavern has a common law obligation to prohibit an intoxicated person from driving, even if the intoxicated person does not consume alcoholic beverages at the tavern. Additionally, the court held that the victim of such an accident could pursue the tavern on the theory that the staff’s failure to call a cab or otherwise secure a sober ride home was a proximate cause of the injury sustained.


Twenty-one year old Hamby went to a restaurant/tavern to drink with nineteen year old Nesbitt. Since he was underage, Nesbitt made no attempt to order alcohol. Instead he ordered soda and spiked it with alcohol that he snuck into the restaurant. He became loud and boisterous during the evening and the two young men left the tavern intoxicated in a car driven by Nesbitt. Nesbitt crashed the car, killing Hamby. [MORE]

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