Kansas Auto Accident, Underage Drunk Driver, is the Bartender Liable?

Kansas Auto Accident, Underage Drunk Driver, is the Bartender Liable?

A bartender selling alcohol to an intoxicated person is not liable for the intoxicated person’s actions, according to the Kansas Supreme Court.

Here’s the facts of the case. A drunk driver, with blood alcohol content of .179, ran a red light at high speed, hitting another vehicle which resulted in the other driver having extensive injuries. The bartenders had continued to serve the drunk even after they knew he was incapacitated by alcohol and knew he was a threat to others. The court has been dismissing such claims for a long time and listed its previous decisions on the issue including:

  • dismissing a wrongful death action against a university for supplying alcohol to a minor who killed a person while driving dunk,
  • dismissing a claim against a college frat house for injuries to a minor whom members supplied alcohol in 2012,
  • dismissing a claim for a minor alcohol related death where a vendor provided the alcohol in 1992
  • dismissing a wrongful death action against a business that supplied liquor to drunken driver in 1986.

The plaintiffs in this case pointed out these similar decisions are outdated, create inexplicable immunity for alcohol vendors, and are bad public policy. A dissent in one of the previous cases said that this law is judge made, judge applied, and unjust. Most state and federal courts that have considered these issues since 1960, have rejected the Kansas Supreme Court position as patently unsound, and hold that a seller can be held liable for furnishing alcoholic beverages to an intoxicated minor who injuries a third person. (see Jackson v. Cadillac Cowboy, 986 SW 2d 410)

Here’s the legalese version: The Kansas Supreme Court ruled on May 10th, 2019 that no redress exists against persons selling, giving, or furnishing intoxicating liquor for resulting injuries or damages because of the acts of intoxicated persons, on the theory that the dispensing of the liquor constituted either a direct wrong or actionable negligence in the case of Kudlacik vs. Johnn’s Shawnee click here.

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