Strategies, Challenges, and Answers

Dram Shop Wonderland

Once upon a time in a land far, far away the courts refused to legislate from
the bench.  That place was called Dram Shop Wonderland.  The story goes like

In that day, there were dram shop owners and innkeepers who served their
guests beverages known to cause inebriation.  The guests would leave the place
in a less than sober state and caused mischief in the town, including damage and
injury.  The victims of the mischief made appeals to the courts and the courts
ordered the guests to pay for the damage.  However, the victims found it
difficult to collect damages from the drunken guests.

Excalibur at night-1 In
this town lived a smart lawyer.  He argued that the damages were caused in part
by the dram shop owners and innkeepers.  So he sued the owners in court.  He
argued that the purveyors of adult beverages should not be serving liquor to
drunks.  Therefore, the owners should pay for the damages done by their
marauding guests.  But the courts would hear none of it.  The courts told the
lawyer that the guests were responsible for the damage done, not the innkeepers
or the dram shop owners.

But as we all know, times have changed.  We no longer have dram shops.
Nowadays they are bars and taverns.  We no longer have inns.  Now they are
hotels.  And since those days, a number of courts in a number of states have
ruled that bars and hotels that serve alcohol are responsible for the injuries
and damage caused by their less than sober guests.

Following the lead of other states, Nevada lawyers have tried to get Nevada
judges to impose liability on the owners for damage or injury caused by the
intoxicated guests.  However, no matter how compelling the facts, the Nevada
judges have refused.  For example there is case of Hamm v. Carson City Nugget,
Inc. 85 Nev. 99, 450 P.2d 358 (1969), a pedestrian was killed when a drunken man
was served alcohol at a tavern contrary to the law.  In Hinegardner v. Marcor
Resorts, L.P.V., 108 Nev. 1091, 844 P.2d 800 (1992) a passenger was injured by
an intoxicated minor who was provided alcohol illegally.  The most recent
attempt was the case of Snyder v. Viani, 112 Nev. 568, 916 P.2d 170 (1996) where
a bar was sued for the underaged driver’s death.  In each instance the courts
have said that if dram shop liability is to be imposed, it will have to be done
by the Nevada legislature.

It appears that Dram Shop Wonderland is a place that can still be found.  And
that place is now called Nevada.

Mills & Associates Insurance Lawyers 702-240-6060

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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