Can you sue an establishment for overserving you liquor?

December 24, 2018 - 3:00 am

By Amy E. Feldman, Judge Technology Solutions

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A drunk man fell onto the train tracks last year. Guess who he just sued? 

A Washington man who was visibly intoxicated left Maggiano's Little Italy restaurant last year and walked to the metro station, where he fell onto the train tracks and suffered facial fractures and head trauma. 

He was embarrassed but was grateful that he hadn't hurt anyone else in the process.

I'm kidding. He just filed a $2 million lawsuit against Maggiano's for overserving him.  
Under the law, an establishment that serves alcohol to someone after he or she is visibly intoxicated can be held liable for the damage the drunk person causes — where, for example, he or she drives drunk and hurts someone.  

The law, called dram shop liability, is a way to prevent an establishment that makes a profit from selling booze from putting profit motive above the public's safety. 

But this guy only hurt himself. Can he really sue the restaurant?  

Some states say no, only third parties can sue, but some do allow the lawsuit regardless of who gets hurt if someone is overserved. 

Whether a jury will agree that the restaurant will have to pay for his poor decision-making is another story, and that has yet to be determined. 

Inside the Law - 12/24/18

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