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Is a Florida Resort that Provides Alcohol Liable When an Intoxicated Patron Drives and Injures Someone?

beer2In the state of Florida, bars and restaurants that provide alcohol to individuals who later injure others in an automobile wreck may be liable in certain, limited situations. In Hall v. West, the appellate court affirmed a lower court ruling that a beach resort did not owe a duty of care to a person injured by an intoxicated defendant a number of miles away from the resort.

The facts of the case are as follows. The plaintiff sustained serious injuries when he was hit by a speeding car driven by the defendant. The defendant was visiting a resort at the time of the accident. Prior to and after arriving at the resort, the defendant had consumed a number of alcoholic beverages and was inebriated. The resort’s security personnel told the defendant to leave and even escorted the defendant to his car. Approximately two hours later, and 13 miles away, the defendant hit the plaintiff. The defendant’s blood alcohol level was determined to be .188.

The plaintiff later filed a lawsuit against the defendant driver as well as the resort, alleging the resort was negligent in a number of ways. Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that the resort failed to identify that the defendant was intoxicated when he entered the premises, failed to make sure that the defendant left the premises safely, failed to utilize responsible persons to deal with intoxicated patrons, and failed to employ individuals who would use due care to ensure that policies and procedures were followed so that an intoxicated person would leave the premises safely.

The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the resort. The appellate court agreed with the lower court. The court ruled that the resort was not liable on the basis of Florida Statute 768.125. The statute does not impose liability on a person or entity that sells or furnishes alcoholic beverages to a person of lawful drinking age in the absence of knowledge that the individual was habitually addicted to the use of alcoholic beverages.

The court rejected the argument that the case of Bardy v. Walt Disney World Co. created an exception to the Florida statute. In that case, a guard told an inebriated employee to move his vehicle and vacate the property. The court held that Disney had an obligation to not order an employee to leave the property unless it reasonably believed that the employee could drive safely, Here, the court found that the facts in the present case were different from the facts in Bardy, and the resort owed no duty to the plaintiff.

Ascertaining liability in an injury case can be a difficult and complicated process. This is why it is imperative to obtain the help of a qualified Miami premises liability attorney who is well-versed in this area of the law. At the Law Offices of Robert Dixon, our team has helped countless South Florida clients and can help you as well. To find out more about your legal options, contact us online or call us today at 1-877-499-HURT (4878).

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The “Foreign Body” Instruction in Florida Medical Negligence Cases, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, April 15, 2015

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Duty of Care Owed to Trespassers in Florida, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, April 15, 2015