SW Legal studies in Business

Neither Wholesaler or Retailer of Alcoholic Beverage Violated Duty to Drunk Patron Who Died

Tennessee appeals court held that the heirs of a restaurant patron, who became drunk and later fell off a bridge and was killed, had no cause of action under the Dram Shop Act or common law against either the restaurant or the company that sold alcoholic beverages to the restaurant.

Topic Torts
Key Words

Negligence; Wrongful Death; Dram Shop Act; Restaurant

C A S E   S U M M A R Y

Montgomery was a customer at Gondolier restaurant. He was served alcoholic beverages and became intoxicated. Gondolier staff called for a taxi to take him home. The taxi driver agreed that Montgomery was drunk. The taxi driver testified that Montgomery kept saying he did not want to go home, that he wanted to go back to the Gondolier. Several times he grabbed the steering wheel, causing the taxi driver nearly to lose control. The taxi driver pulled over and removed Montgomery from the cab. The driver called 911 to report that he left a very drunk man at the side of the road. Later, Montgomery's body was found. He had fallen off a bridge and was killed. His blood alcohol was very high. His heirs sued the Gondolier and the seller of alcoholic beverages to the Gondolier for negligence by violating the Tennessee Dram Shop Act, which imposes liability on servers of alcoholic beverages under certain conditions. The trial court granted defendants summary judgment. Montgomery's heirs appealed.


Affirmed. The Gondolier is relieved of liability. It fulfilled any duty it had to Montgomery by calling a taxi cab, seeing him to the cab, and paying his fare to go home. His subsequent behavior was not foreseeable. Hence, the Gondolier is not liable under either the Dram Shop Act or under the common law of negligence. The sellers of alcoholic beverages to the Gondolier are not liable under the Dram Shop Act, as it applies to retailers of alcoholic beverages, such as the Gondolier, not wholesalers to the retailers. Any liability for the alcoholic beverage wholesalers would be based on negligence, and that does not exist. Suppliers could not foresee Montgomery's behavior.

Citation Montgomery v. Kail Orexi, LLC, ---S.W.3d--- (2009 WL 837711, Ct. App., Tenn., 2009)

Back to Torts Listings

©1997-2010 South-Western Legal Studies in Business, A Division of Cengage Learning. All Rights Reserved.