An Urbana family has lost its bid to create a dram shop law in the state of Maryland through a lawsuit filed in the Court of Appeals.

The court, in an opinion released Thursday, ruled that a tavern does not owe a duty to an injured person who is harmed by an intoxicated patron.

The family of Jazimen Warr, who was killed in a high-speed crash on I-270 in 2008 by a person who had been served 20 drinks at a Gaithersburg bar, argued their case before the court in March.

The driver of the Range Rover, Michael D. Eaton, had been forced out of the Dogfish Head Alehouse by employees about 45 minutes earlier after becoming rowdy, according to testimony before the court in March.

Eaton had been served 20 drinks — 17 beers and three shots of liquor — during a nearly six-hour stretch at the bar.

His car was traveling between 88 and 98 mph at the time of the crash, said John Vail, of the Center for Constitutional Litigation, who argued the case on behalf of the family.

After the crash, Eaton ran from his car and took cover at a nearby hotel.

Jazimen was taken by ambulance to Shady Grove Hospital, where she died of her injuries. The Warrs and Cortavia were also taken to hospitals in Montgomery County and Washington, where they were treated for their injuries. A pet dog was also killed in the crash.

Eaton pleaded guilty to manslaughter by vehicle and leaving the scene of an accident involving personal injuries on July 30, 2009. He was sentenced to eight years in prison and has been released, according to online court records.

The family filed a lawsuit against Dogfish Head Alehouse and the corporation that owns the bar in Montgomery County Circuit Court in December 2010.

That judge decided in favor of the bar and JMGM Group LLC, the corporation, citing previous decisions by the Court of Appeals. The judge also wrote that times had changed since the highest court's last opinion on the matter and that bar owners should expect that intoxicated patrons will get into a crash.

The Court of Appeals and Court of Special Appeals declined three times to create a dram shop law, in 1951, 1981 and 2000, according to the Maryland Department of Legislative Services. In 2011 and 2012, bills to create such a law failed to gain traction in the General Assembly.  

Danielle E. Gaines covers politics and government in Frederick County, splitting her time between Winchester Hall and The State House. Having grown up in Illinois, she lived in New York and California before settling in Maryland.

(22) comments

sevenstones1000

Who is Cortavia and how many Warrs were in the car? Very poorly written article.

president8444

I go get drunk kill someone by car and sue the liquor server. Not my fault for buying too much. Oh no not this junk.so the drunk has no responsability for being drunk??

watson4sherlock

When a person is intoxicated they are not competent to execute a legal and binding contract. It's like when you have outpatient surgery under anesthesia they tell you not to make any legal decisions or sign any contracts for the next 24 hours. I had to sign my spouse's hospital discharge.

In some states, not Maryland, law makers have passed laws to make proprietors responsible for selling liquor to people who lack the ability to comprehend the risks for consuming more alcohol because they are intoxicated.

watson4sherlock

So, if a person signs a contract while drunk, can that contract be enforced? In general, courts are usually not very sympathetic to people who claim they were intoxicated when they signed a contract. But where, as here, the other party to the contract knew about the intoxication and took advantage of the intoxicated person, the courts have refused to enforce the contract.

See http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2012/05/15/enforcing-contracts-signed-when-drunk/

business

Do you have any responsibility for being a gigantic ahole?

kmichael2

I sure hope the bartenders on shift that night were tipped well. These savvy professionals are supposed to know when to say when, they are even supposed to attend classes to teach them when enough is enough. I personally believe if you knowingly serve some booze-hound until his breath could light a cigar from across the room, then push him out the door because hes become a sassy souse, and he gets in his car and kills someone, I think the bar/bartender probably should share in some of the responsibility. Will never happen though (and I've know bartenders in the past), they will be first to claim they cannot be responsible for knowing whos had enough at any given point, which makes me wonder why they attend the classes at all.

quemzeee2

How about we find out who is the board on this L.L.C. Nowhere on the internet will it state the owners names.
Sounds kind of odd .
this J.M.G.M group murdered this girl , If drug company can be held liable for damage done for prescriptions. why not for drugs like alchohol.

dressthebird

No, pretty sure "J.M.G.M group" does not drive.

home_schuuled_kid

JMGM group = real responsible people
JMGM < responsible for other drivers

home_schuuled_kid

JMGM responsible for other drivers

home_schuuled_kid

JMGM NOT responsible for other drivers

home_schuuled_kid

FNP = Stop taking out the less-than greater-than symbols. It's messing up the context of this post. Thanks

home_schuuled_kid

Ignore this post "JMGM responsible for other drivers"

FNP bulletin board messed it up

sodalite3

Try researching your State Representatives and Senator and see how, if at all, they voted for possible laws to enact a "Dram Shop" type of law. Or is it just more "burdensome" State regulation of private businesses?

home_schuuled_kid

J.M.G.M. = Owners = Husband/Wife

G.M. = M.G. = Husband
J.M. = M.J. = Wife

dressthebird

Whatever the initials, JMGM...GMMG...JMMJ..did not get behind the wheel of a vehicle & drive up I-270 and crash into another vehicle.

quemzeee2

absoulutly a disgrace. For those of us who have been involved in the legal aspect of liquor sales nationaly [ which i have been] this is a disgrace.
Dogfish should have been closed down and sued for this.

sodalite3

Thye were...try reading the article

sodalite3

Conservatives should be hailing the Maryland Courts for not being "judicial activist" in this case.[wink]

watson4sherlock

Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia have no Dram Shop laws that could stop a vendor from serving an intoxicated patron.

See http://www.madd.org/laws/law-overview/Dram_Shop_Overview.pdf

dressthebird

Business friendly Maryland [sic]...

fredneckian

Business friendly to anyone that sells booze.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Engage ideas. This forum is for the exchange of ideas, insights and experiences, not personal attacks. Ad hominen criticisms are not allowed. Focus on ideas instead.
TURN OFF CAPS LOCK.
Don't threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
No trolls. Off-topic comments and comments that bait others are not allowed.
No spamming. This is not the place to sell miracle cures.
Say it once. No repeat or repetitive posts, please.
Help us. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.