Bar's insurer need not cover damages for waking drunken patron who kills innocent motorist
Badger Mutual Insurance Company provided liability and dramshop coverage for a men's club/bar operated by Ross Enterprises. The coverage provided $50,000.00 in dramshop coverage and a much larger liability coverage for other acts of negligence. The "other" coverage excluded any negligent acts where there was also liability by reason of a violation of liquor sales laws.In the instant case, the decedent's family sued the bar only for negligence, alleging that after discovering Ronnie Jackson passed out in his own vomit, the club woke him, brought his car to the door, turned over his keys, and sent him on the road in a drunken condition. The insurer asked the court to exclude its general liability coverage on the basis that the family COULD HAVE alleged a dramshop claim. The trial judge refused but the Court of Appeals overturned the judge's decision. It ruled that because the policy excluded coverage where the bar "contributed to a person's intoxication," the insurer could use this exclusion to refuse to indemnify for the alleged negligence as well: even though the family of the decedent did not join a claim that the bar had illegally contributed to Jackson's intoxication.