Saturday, February 22, 2014

"On the Rocks" & the Dram Shop Act

On the Rocks is what many would call a local pub. It occupies prime property on North Court Street in a building that for many years housed the Davis Dress Shop. Look closely at the the Facebook pic of OTR and you can still see the Davis name imprinted on tiles at the entrance. OTR has lasted longer than many such establishments do in the fickle world of passe' if it happened over 24 hours ago.

Should, or perhaps more to the point, can OTR be held responsible in part for the death of Brittany Underwood? This is what the law states:

1.  the sale of alcohol was contrary to law;
2.  the sale of the alcohol was the cause of the intoxication; and
3.  the plaintiff’s injuries were proximately caused by the intoxication.

Those present on the night of the accident have stated Burns was intoxicated when he left the bar; however, one problem for William Hovater may be in proving John Clark Burns Jr. didn't consume more or most of the intoxicating alcohol after he left OTR. The telling word in interpretation of the law is "known alcoholic." Was Burns an alcoholic? Hovater's comment concerning the young man's history would seem to indicate that will be a lynchpin in the case. 

For those who think OTR employees should not be legally considered nannies, the fact remains that it's currently the law and has been for decades. Just because we don't like a law does not make us exempt from it.

Is five million dollars an outrageous amount in this case? We're guessing this amount is an estimate of the projected earnings of Underwood had she lived a normal lifespan. Alabama law also provides for punitive damages, and juries have been known to award much more than the original amount asked. Liquor liability insurance in Alabama runs about $16.00 per 1K in alcohol sales. Let's hope OTR has a good policy.

We should also note that under this law, Burns' family may also sue OTR. Stay tuned...


Another take on it from our friend OB: No Winners



  1. Where does personal responsibility fit into the equation?

    1. Make no mistake, if it had been us, we would have sued Burns if we sued anyone, but this is where the deep pockets comes in. It would seem Burns himself is still in good favor with the family. So much for personal responsibility...