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Convenience store liable for over-serving a customer

When a business in Pennsylvania sells alcohol to someone who is obviously inebriated already, it may be held liable for any injuries or deaths caused by the intoxicated patron. In one out-of-state case, a state supreme court affirmed a verdict against a convenience store for over-serving a customer alcohol. The store served an underage driver, which led to a deadly crash. The verdict was for $15 million in damages.

The crash occurred back in 2007 and caused the death of a 13-year-old boy. It also led to injuries to three other people. Four different lawsuits were filed following the crash, but they ended up being consolidated and then tried in front of one jury.

The mother of the boy who died in the drunk driving crash was awarded $7 million in damages. One other passenger was awarded a total of $750,000 in compensatory damages as well as punitive damages totaling $3 million. Yet another teen received an award of $3.9 million for compensatory as well as punitive damages. The mother of the individual who drove the car was awarded punitive damages totaling $500,000. Punitive damages are typically awarded in cases of egregious fault.

The lawsuits filed in this Alabama case were filed under that state's dram shop act. Dram shop laws in Pennsylvania allow legal claims to be filed against an establishment accused of over-serving a customer when a subsequent accident results in injuries. Anyone who suffers injuries or sustains damages in such a situation has the right to seek to full accountability from the allegedly at-fault establishment through the civil court system.

Source: al.com, "Store that sold alcohol to minors in fatal crash will have to pay $15 million", Kent Faulk, Nov. 20, 2015

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