SW Legal studies in Business

Alcohol Seller May Be Liable for Injuries Caused by Third Party in Criminal Assault

Appeals court held that under Colorado statutory law regarding liability for the sellers of alcohol, a nightclub could be found liable for selling alcohol to a visibly intoxicated patron who then stabbed a person outside of the club.

Topic Real and Personal Property
Key Words

Premises Liability; Alcohol; Vendor Liability; Criminal Assault

C A S E   S U M M A R Y

Strauch, plaintiff, and his assailant, who did not know each other, both attended a New Yearís Eve party at defendantís nightclub. The assailant bought the most expensive admission pass that allowed unlimited alcoholic drinks. After leaving the club about 1 a.m., Strauch was walking back to his hotel room. Assailant, who was drunk, stabbed Strauch with a knife. Strauch sued the nightclub for serving an intoxicated patron who then stabbed him. The Colorado legislature abolished common law tort actions regarding intoxicated patrons, but imposes limited liability upon alcohol vendors for injuries caused to third parties by intoxicated patrons. The district court dismissed the suit. Strauch appealed.


Reversed and remanded. Under Colorado law, to establish limited statutory liability of a licensed alcohol vendor, Strauch need not prove that the vendor should have foreseen the injuries caused by its visibly intoxicated patron. It suffices that the vendorís improper service of alcohol to a person who was visibly intoxicated caused the patronís intoxication and the personís intoxication caused the plaintiffís injuries.

Citation Struach v. Build It and They Will Drink, Inc., ---P.3d--- (2009 WL 3464129, Ct. App., Colo., 2009)

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