If a drunk driver injures you in a car accident, you can sue him for damages. You can also sue any bar that served him alcohol after he was visibly intoxicated.
Douglas D. was injured by alleged drunk driver Justin B. Douglas sued the bar that served Justin alcohol. One of the bar’s defenses was that the accident occurred too soon after Justin left. Thus, any alcohol that Justin was served after he was clearly drunk could not have entered his system by the time of the accident. Therefore, the bar claimed, it should not be responsible for Douglas’ injuries.
The trial judge disregarded the bar’s argument. The judge essentially ruled that, if a bar serves a visibly drunk person more alcohol, then if the drunk drives and injures someone in an accident, it’s the bar’s problem. Period.
A New Jersey appeals court did not see things the same way. The appeals court ruled that the bar had to be given a chance to prove that the alcohol that caused the accident was the alcohol it served the driver before he became visibly drunk, not the alcohol it served him afterwards.
The appeals court’s ruling may sound fine to some, in theory. But, in practice, it places an unfair burden on innocent victims to prove how quickly alcohol was absorbed into the drunk driver’s bloodstream.
That said, it’s obvious that the trial judge should have known better than to issue a simple ruling based upon common sense and fairness. This is America, 2012. The law must be as complicated and incomprehensible as possible, justice be damned. Hey, just look at the tax code.