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TORT LAW – NEGLIGENCE – DUTY – DRAM SHOP LIABILITY

TORT LAW – NEGLIGENCE – DUTY – DRAM SHOP LIABILITY

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Published by citypaper
The Court of Appeals held that Maryland does not recognize a cause of action against a
tavern for harm caused by an intoxicated patron, off premises, in the absence of a special relationship between the tavern and the person harmed or between the tavern and the actor who caused the harm. Absent such a relationship, the Court held, the tavern does not owe a duty to the injured party to prevent the harm caused by the intoxicated patron.
The Court of Appeals held that Maryland does not recognize a cause of action against a
tavern for harm caused by an intoxicated patron, off premises, in the absence of a special relationship between the tavern and the person harmed or between the tavern and the actor who caused the harm. Absent such a relationship, the Court held, the tavern does not owe a duty to the injured party to prevent the harm caused by the intoxicated patron.

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Published by: citypaper on Jul 26, 2013
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09/26/2014

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William J. Warr, Jr., et al. v. JMGM Group, LLC, d/b/a Dogfish Head Alehouse, No. 57,Sept. Term 2012.
TORT LAW – NEGLIGENCE – DUTY – DRAM SHOP LIABILITY
The Court of Appeals held that Maryland does not recognize a cause of action against atavern for harm caused by an intoxicated patron, off premises, in the absence of a specialrelationship between the tavern and the person harmed or between the tavern and the actor who caused the harm. Absent such a relationship, the Court held, the tavern does not owea duty to the injured party to prevent the harm caused by the intoxicated patron.
 
IN THE COURT OF APPEALS OFMARYLAND No. 57September Term, 2012WILLIAM J. WARR, JR., et al.v.JMGM GROUP, LLC, d/b/a/ DOGFISHHEAD ALEHOUSE*Bell, C.J.HarrellBattagliaGreeneAdkinsBarberaMcDonald,JJ.Opinion by Battaglia, J.Harrell, Adkins, and McDonald, JJ., dissent.Filed: July 25, 2013*Bell, C.J., participated in the hearing of thecase, in the conference in regard to its decisionand in the adoption of the opinion, but he had retired from the Court prior to the filing of theopinion.
 
This case presents us with the opportunity to consider once again whether or not thisCourt should recognize dram shop liability.
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William J. Warr, Jr. and Angela T. Warr filed suit in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County against JMGM Group, LLC, which owns the Dogfish Head Alehouse
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(Dogfish Head), to recover for injuries they and their daughter Cortavia M. Harris sustained and for the death of their second daughter, Jazimen, in a car accident. The Warrs alleged thatMichael Eaton, the driver of the vehicle that struck the car Mr. Warr was driving, had been
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served alcohol while Mr. Eaton was “clearly intoxicated” at Dogfish Head. Becausemembers of the Dogfish Head’s staff had served Mr. Eaton alcohol while he was socompromised, the Warrs alleged, the tavern had breached its duty to them to “not furnishalcohol to intoxicated persons,” which caused their injuries.
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Judge Eric M. Johnson of the Circuit Court for Montgomery County denied DogfishHead’s motion to dismiss. In granting, however, Dogfish Head’s motion for summary judgment, Judge Johnson opined that he was bound by our decisions in
State v. Hatfield,
197The term “dram shop liability” refers to “[c]ivil liability of a commercial seller 
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of alcoholic beverages for personal injury caused by an intoxicated customer.” Black’s LawDictionary 568 (9th ed. 2009). “Dram shop” is an archaic term for a bar or tavern. Black’sLaw Dictionary 567. The term “dram” is an antiquated unit of fluid measurement, equivalentto one eighth of a liquid ounce, used by apothecaries; its use in the phrase “dram shop” wasa result of the fact that taverns often sold hard alcohol by the dram.The acronym JMGM is undefined in the record.
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Mr. Eaton is not a party to this suit.
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In considering the issues in this case, we express no opinion regarding any
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effect of sales of alcohol by tavern owners on premises liability.

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