Strategies, Challenges, and Answers

Dram Shop Wonderland Castle Withstands Surprise Attack

Previous blogs have discussed the long standing rule in Nevada that a proprietor’s sale of alcohol is not the proximate cause of injury to either the consumer or a victim of the consumer of the beverage.

The most recent case that was discussed was Rodriguez v. Primmadonna Co., 125 Nev. Adv. Op. 45 (2009), discussed HERE.  That case involved inebriated casino patrons who had been kicked out of a casino, with the casino’s knowledge that they would be departing in a vehicle.  An ensuing accident led to serious injuries to a member of that party. A new case decided by the Nevada Supreme Court , Sanchez v. Wal-Mart Stores, 125 Nev. Adv. Op. 60 (2009), concerns an attempt to impose similar liability, but this time the dispenser of the “intoxicant” was a pharmacist, not a bartender.

Castle JGA 1.10 Appellant was changing a tire on the side of U.S. 95 in Las Vegas, Nevada, when he was struck and killed by a driver, Patricia Copening, who was subsequently arrested for driving under the influence of controlled substances.  It was later revealed that Copening had obtained the controlled substances from a variety of area pharmacies, including Defendant Wal-Mart.

The specific issue addressed was whether a pharmacy owes a duty of care to unidentified third parties who were injured by a pharmacy customer who was driving while under the influence of controlled prescription drugs.

In the lower court, appellants had cited Nevada’s Dram Shop cases, previously discussed by Mills and Associates HERE and HERE.  The district court found there to be no material difference between a bartender providing a customer alcohol, and a pharmacist filling a customer’s prescription, therefore eliminating proximate cause.  The Nevada Supreme Court, however, found a discussion of Dram Shop law unnecessary due to their finding of the absence of a legal duty on the pharmacy upon review of applicable Nevada statutes and regulatory provisions.

The Nevada Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s order dismissing appellant’s action against the pharmacies for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, without the necessity of a review or modification of Nevada’s Dram Shop laws.

About Michael Mills

Mr. Mills practices in the area of civil litigation and appeals, with particular experience in matters involving trucking liability, insurance defense, insurance coverage, premises liability, products liability and defense of personal injury. Mr. Mills is a member of the Trucking Insurance Defense Association, the Defense Research Institute Trucking Committee and the Nevada Motor Transport Association. Mr. Mills is licensed to practice before the Nevada Supreme Court and the Utah Supreme Court. He is also licensed to appear before the United States Supreme Court, the U.S. District Courts for the Districts of Nevada and Utah, as well as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Mr. Mills has created 3 Blogs for the benefit of the insurance industry. He serves as editor and publisher of the Nevada Insurance Law Blog, the Nevada Coverage and Bad Faith Blog and the Nevada Trucking Law Blog.

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