The Oregon Supreme Court recently decided the case of Decard v. Bunch. In the September, 2015 opinion, the Court further explained the impact of Oregon’s dram shop statute on host liability for an intoxicated guest that ends up causing injuries in a foreseeable manner.
Oregon’s dram shop statute, which is a liquor liability statute, is set forth at ORS 471.565 (2). That statute applies to both bars (or other establishments licensed to serve alcohol) and to social hosts. That statute provides that the licensed establishment, or a host, is not liable unless the injured plaintiff proves by “clear and convincing” evidence that:
(a) The licensee, permittee or social host served or provided alcoholic beverages to the patron or guest while the patron or guest was visibly intoxicated; and
(b) The plaintiff did not substantially contribute to the intoxication of the patron or guest by:
(A) Providing or furnishing alcoholic beverages to the patron or guest;
(B) Encouraging the patron or guest to consume or purchase alcoholic beverages or in any other manner; or
(C) Facilitating the consumption of alcoholic beverages by the patron or guest in any manner.
After analysis of the statute, the Court concluded that the statute does not provide a separate independent cause of action under the statute for liability. Rather, the statute provides a shield for defendants. While the licensed establishments or social hosts may be liable under a negligence theory, they are only liable if the Plaintiff establishes by clear and convincing evidence that the bar or host served the patron when the plaintiff was visibly intoxicated, and that the plaintiff did not substantially contribute to the intoxication of the guest.
The dram shop cases most typically come up when a drunk driver causes a collision that injures other people (either passengers or others). In such cases, sometimes the driver’s insurance may not be adequate to reasonably compensate the injured person.
Brad Schrock of Schrock Law Office is experienced in evaluating personal injury cases. Whether it is a case involving potential social host liability or bar liability, it is good to have these cases evaluated by an attorney you can trust. If you are looking for a Beaverton attorney, or a Portland or Oregon injury attorney to handle a personal injury case, please give Brad Schrock a call at (503) 626-3087, to schedule a free consultation.