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Dramshop case may go forward

Martin Stott was killed by a drunk driver, Dennis Brown.  Brown had spent the day drinking at several bars, including the Oakwood Lounge, Inc., in Ingham County, where he drank through the lunch and dinner shifts, became loud, and the bartender had to tell him several times to quiet down.  Eventually the bartender  took away his drink and kicked him out.  He proceeded to run down the Plaintiff's Decedent, who was a road construction flagman.

It is illegal to serve alcohol to someone who is visibly intoxicated, however, the Engler Majority of the Michigan Supreme Court reexamined how "dramshop" cases are evaluated and demanded that victims present testimony that someone in the bar actually admit to seeing the drunk served after becoming drunk.  Needless to say, in this as in virtually all bar cases, none of the bar staff saw any of the "telltale" signs of intoxication, and the trial court dismissed the case.  On appeal, the higher court reinstated it, noting that there were enough circumstantial facts of "visible intoxication" to creat a jury question.  The court also noted, however, that if the Oakwood Lounge turns out not to be the last  bar where brown drank, the victim's family will need to prove that its case by "clear and convincing evidence."
Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
309 East Front Street
Traverse City, Michigan 49684
Toll Free: 1-800-678-1307
Fax: 231-929-7262