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N.J. Tavern Held Not Liable For Death Of Patron Not Served Alcohol - Appeals Court Reversed

May 11, 2009

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In Bauer v. Nesbitt, the New Jersey Supreme Court unanimously overturned an appeals court ruling that would have placed extra duties on tavern owners to avoid Dram Shop Act liability for traffic accidents. The Appellate Division ruling would have placed a duty on alcoholic beverage servers to monitor every patron, including those to whom no alcohol was served, for signs of visible intoxication. The other part of the appeals court ruling would have required taverns to prevent drunken patrons from getting into cars with drunken drivers, which the Supreme Court reversed because the plaintiff did not plead a cause of action based on service of alcohol to the driver. The Supreme Court wrote that Appellate Division decision would impose a duty to monitor every guest for signs of intoxication , even those to whom no alcohol was served , and " every license holder, whether a diner or tavern , would be potentially liable if a person ate nothing more than chicken wings on the premises, but had consumed alcohol earlier off premises to the point of intoxication."
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