Maryland’s highest court narrowly ruled (4-3) that bar owners are not responsible for drunk driving accidents and fatalities their patrons cause after leaving the bar.
On August 21st, 2008, Michael Eaton was served between 10 and 20 drinks at Dogfish Head Alehouse in Gaithersburg, MD. Eaton left the bar highly intoxicated. As he drove home, he recklessly rear-end William Warr’s car at an estimated 88 mph. Jazimen Warr, the 10 year old granddaughter of Rev. William & Angela Warr was seated in the backseat of the SUV with her sister, Cortavia. Although all members of the Warr family were injured in the accident, Jazimen’s injuries were fatal.
Unfortunately, Maryland is one of just seven states in the U.S. that does not allow “dram shops” (alcohol-serving establishments) to be held responsible for the tragic drunk driving consequences their patrons cause as the result of being served excessive amounts of alcohol. In Maryland, it is illegal for a bar to serve alcoholic beverages to an obviously intoxicated person.
Andy Bederman and Jason Fernandez of Greenberg & Bederman represented the Warr family in an attempt to change Maryland law and hold bars civilly liable for their criminal conduct. After all, studies in other states have shown that such civil liability helps reduce drunk driving, accidents and fatalities.
The 3 judges who signed the dissenting opinion strongly expressed their dissatisfaction with the Court’s ultimate ruling.
Attorney Andy Bederman and William Warr have been highlighted in recent news regarding this important case. Below is a news clip about Maryland’s dram shop liability court ruling, featuring both William Warr and attorney Andy Bederman.
Additional News and Commentary On The Recent Maryland Dram Shop Court Ruling:
- (NEW) (Washington Post) Maryland Case Shows Bars Should Be Liable For Drunk Patrons
- (NEW) Maryland Court Rules Over Liability of Bars In Drunk Driving Cases
- (NEW) MD Courts Make Decision Regarding Dram Shop Liability in Montgomery County Drunk Driving Fatality Case
- State Court of Appeals hears case of liabilty of bars in drunken driving cases – The Gazette
- Maryland high court considers whether restaurants, bars should held liable for drunken drivers – Washington Post
- Maryland court considers liability of bars in drunken-driving crashes – The Baltimore Sun
- Suit to Hold Bar Responsible in Fatal Drunk Driving Case Heads to Appeals Court- NBC
- Judge throws out case against Dogfish Head Alehouse – The Gazette
- Jazemin Warr’s family to Sue – ABC 7
- Judge to write second decision on Dogfish case – The Gazette
- Breaking with top court, judge lets crash survivor sue bar – The Daily Record
- Judge to decide on trial for restaurant’s liability in alcohol-related fatality – The Gazzette