Wife of Man Who Died in Maine Car Accident Suing Nightclub That Served Drunk Driver

The widow of a man killed when he was struck by a drunk driver in Maine on New Year’s Day is suing both the driver and the nightclub that served her alcohol earlier in the night. 

The 30-year-old defendant driver, who was allegedly drunk, had reportedly been consuming alcohol at the Sapphire Nightclub and Event Center in Auburn, ME on New Year’s Eve, 2016. When the defendant driver left the nightclub after 1 a.m., there was snow on the ground, reducing visibility and traction. Her vehicle slammed into the rear of a parked vehicle, out of which the decedent was in the process of exiting. As a result of the impact, the 41-year-old decedent suffered spinal fractures, numerous broken ribs, and a ruptured aortic arch. His injuries proved fatal, though his widow describes him as enduring conscious pain and suffering before he died.

According to the SunJournal.com, the plaintiff alleges the nightclub served the defendant driver numerous alcoholic beverages on the night in question, allowing her to become highly intoxicated and not fit to safely operate a motor vehicle.

The lawsuit against the nightclub is one our Bangor wrongful death lawyers know is rooted in dram shop liability. Maine’s Liquor Liability Act allows for liability of alcohol vendors that recklessly or negligently serve alcohol to someone who later causes harm to another person (usually by driving drunk).

Negligent service of liquor is codified in M.R.S.  Title 28-A § 2506, and it allows for liability of a party that negligently serves alcohol to a minor or to someone who is visibly intoxicated if the server knows or if a reasonable and prudent person under similar circumstances would know the individual is either a minor or visibly intoxicated. A server of alcohol won’t be liable for another person’s consumption of alcohol or other drugs off the server’s site, unless the drunk or underage person’s appearance, behavior, and other facts known to the server would put a reasonable and prudent person on notice of such consumption.

Meanwhile, reckless service of liquor is codified in M.R.S. Title 28-A § 2507. This provision allows for a finding of liability against someone who serves alcohol to a minor or an adult who is impaired if the server intentionally serves alcohol to that person, consciously disregarding the obvious and substantial risk that doing so will cause physical harm to the drinker or others. Reckless service of alcohol involves a gross deviation from the standard of conduct of a reasonable and prudent person in the same situation.

Some examples of reckless conduct, as outlined by statute, include:

  • Actively encouraging people who are already drunk to consume substantial amounts of alcohol;
  • Serving liquor to someone under 18 when the server has actual or constructive knowledge of the youth’s age; or
  • Serving alcohol to someone in a manner so excessive and continuous it creates a substantial risk of alcohol poisoning death.

The plaintiff in the Auburn dram shop liability case is alleging reckless service of liquor, pointing out in her complaint that the club regularly features drinking games, including beer pong, and heavily advertises both “shot girls” and bottle service to entice customers to purchase and consume large quantities of alcohol.

While the defendant driver is facing criminal charges of manslaughter, aggravated criminal OUI, and driving to endanger, that will unfold separately from the civil case.

If you are the victim of a Bangor car accident, contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-804-2004 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:

Wife of man killed in Livermore accident sues nightclub, others, Oct. 2, 2017, By Christopher Williams, Sun Journal

More Blog Entries:

Maine Liquor Liability Act May be Applied in Fatal Crash, Oct. 4, 2017, Bangor Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer Blog

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