A Northampton Common Pleas court has ruled that a defendant tavern owner may be liable for punitive damages where the bartender(s) are alleged to have served alcohol to an obviously intoxicated person who they should have known would drive home. The patron did ultimately drive home resulting in a fatal motor vehicle accident. The court did not decide that the tavern is responsible for punitive damages just that the claim for punitive damages could proceed.
Many people are not aware of the responsibilities of servers to make sure they are not serving obviously intoxicated guests. When a server does serve an intoxicated patron, the public is at risk of injury or death caused by the patron after leaving the tavern. This risk of harm to the public is severe given the extremely dangerous condition created by drunk driving. As a law firm that represents the victims of drunk driving accidents, we know the importance of investigating all avenues of recovery for victims. The evidence of witnesses, receipts for payments of drinks by credit card, etc. is critical evidence that can be lost if not quickly identified and retained in the event of a claim against a bar or nightclub.