- DC Case Summary
- May 10, 2018 | Author: Collin C. Shannon
- Law Firm: Thomas, Thomas & Hafer LLP - Washington Office
United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia
Decided: January 26, 2018
Businesses that serve visibly intoxicated customers who later cause injuries may be held liable without a showing of foreseeability.
Plaintiffs, the parents of a man killed during a drunken altercation outside a McDonald’s, filed suit against a number of parties, including the two bars that served him, and the McDonald’s outside of which he died. The issues before the Court were whether the two bars who served Ward, the man who killed the Plaintiff’s son, could be held liable under a negligence per se argument, and whether McDonald’s owed any duties to the Plaintiff’s son. The District Court originally dismissed the claims against the bars and McDonald’s for failure to state facts to support proximate cause. The Court pointed to a trio of prior cases which indicate that pursuant to DC public policy, a bar or restaurant may be liable for injuries caused by a drunk person after he leaves the bar if he was visibly intoxicated when served, a lower standard than is typical for DC tort cases involving intervening criminal acts.
The Court overruled the District Court and permitted the action against the bars to proceed. The Court did not, however address the level of visible impairment which puts bars on notice of their duty not to serve a patron. As for the claimed duties owed by McDonald’s, the Court found that the Plaintiff had failed to prove the existence of any national standards which required any of the duties they alleged. As such, the Court agreed with the District Court’s determination that McDonald’s was entitled to summary judgment.Questions about this case can be directed to Collin Shannon, at (202) 945-9504 or [email protected]