This case presents us with the opportunity to consider once again whether or not thisCourt should recognize dram shop liability.
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
(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
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.
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
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.
Mr. Eaton is not a party to this suit.
In considering the issues in this case, we express no opinion regarding any
effect of sales of alcohol by tavern owners on premises liability.