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Liability Under Dram Shop Act Required Actual Knowledge of Intoxication
Description Appeals court upheld the dismissal of a suit brought against a social host under the Indiana Dram Shop Act for injuries suffered in an accident caused by a guest who became intoxicated while on the host's premises. For the host to be liable, there must be actual knowledge that the guest was intoxicated. Plaintiff failed to provide such evidence.
Topic Torts
Key Words Dram Shop Act; Social Host
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Culver was injured in an auto accident caused by Crowley, who was driving while intoxicated and was later convicted of reckless homicide. Crowley got drunk at a party on McRoberts' boat. Culber sued McRoberts for negligence per se under the Indiana Dram Shop Act and for common-law negligence for failure to supervise Crowley. The district court dismissed the suit, holding that McRoberts did not know of Crowley's intoxication, as required under the Dram Shop Act, and that there was no common law negligence action under Indiana law. Culver appealed.
Decision Affirmed. "Plaintiff must show that McRoberts had actual knowledge that Crowley was intoxicated at the time Crowley procured his drinks." At the time Crowley may have been intoxicated, McRoberts was gone from his boat attending to other things, so he did not observe if Crowley kept drinking, and, when Crowley saw him later, and had dinner with him, he did not drink more nor did he appear to be drunk. Culver has not shown that McRoberts was in a position to observe Crowley become or act intoxicated. Further, in Indiana, there is no common-law in such instances for social hosts.
Citation Culver v. McRoberts, 192 F.3d 1095 (7th Cir., 1999)

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