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Dram Shop Case Filed Against Florida Law School in Drunk Driving Wreck

A law student drinks too much, drives down the wrong side of the road and causes a fiery crash. Will the school that hosted the party he was at early in the evening have to pay the victims' families?
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    November 30, 2012 /24-7PressRelease/ -- It's not unheard of for a bar, tavern or nightclub to face lawsuits after an over served patron causes a car accident. But a law school facing dram shop liability? That brings a whole new twist to the standard Florida dram shop case.

Was law student knowingly over served alcohol at the "Barrister's Ball"?

In early 2012, St. Thomas University in southeast Florida hosted an event known as the "Barrister's Ball." The Barrister's Ball is St. Thomas University's conception of law prom, a common social event held at law schools across the country.

While alcohol-fueled law prom celebrations are often the source of regrettable antics, it's rare that they turn deadly. But that's exactly what the father of a drunk driving accident victim is alleging in a recent wrongful death lawsuit.

Anwar Janania was a first-year law student at St. Thomas University the night of the Barrister Ball. According to court papers, Janania was served an excessive amount of alcohol at the law prom, after which he proceeded to Scarlett's Cabaret, a local strip club. Despite his obvious intoxication, Janania allegedly continued to procure cocktails at Scarlett's Cabaret into the early morning hours. When Janania eventually left, he drove his vehicle onto the wrong side of the road and collided with a Mazda CX-7 carrying Amy Lopez and two others. All four occupants of both vehicles were killed.

Not long after the accident, Lopez's father filed a lawsuit naming St. Thomas University, Scarlett's Cabaret and State Farm Insurance as defendants. Both the university and Scarlett's Cabaret were sued in their capacity as servers of alcoholic beverages (State Farm was involved because Mr. Lopez alleged that the insurer had not honored the uninsured/underinsured motorist policy covering the driver of the vehicle Amy Lopez was riding in).

A Florida dram shop claim is commonly filed against an alcohol-serving establishment when a drunk driver causes an accident, and there is evidence indicating that the bartender should have known that that the person being served was past the point of being able to function safely. Dram shop lawsuits are often complex; whether a patron has been served too much is a difficult judgment to make, as different people begin to appear intoxicated after consuming different amounts of alcohol.

In the Lopez case, the issues are further complicated by the fact that Janania left the Barrister's Ball and continued to drink at Scarlett's Cabaret. In addition to proving that a bartender over served a patron despite an obvious risk to public safety, successful dram shop plaintiffs also must show that there is a close enough casual connection between the wrongful conduct of the drinking establishment and the ultimate harm that resulted from the accident. Janania's detour to imbibe at Scarlett's Cabaret may have severed the connection between any allegedly irresponsible beverage policies at the Barrister's Ball and the accident that cost Amy Lopez her life.

Florida dram shop claims can help compensate victims of drunk drivers

It remains to be seen whether the Barrister's Ball will collar St. Thomas University with legal liability as a dram shop; the case against Scarlett's Cabaret may be stronger, since it was the last place Janania was served alcohol before the accident.

If you have been injured by a drunk driver, or if a family member has been killed, a dram shop claim can be a good way to secure the compensation you need from those who contributed to the accident by over serving. Dram shop claims are particularly useful when the drunk driver was uninsured or underinsured. Speak to a Florida dram shop claim attorney today to learn more about how a lawsuit could help compensate you for your losses.

Article provided by Carey & Leisure
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