Category Archives: Dram Shop Liability

Duty to Provide Security: General and Specific Threat of Third Party Criminal Conduct

The Tennessee Court of Appeals has penned a new decision Bar fight 1addressing the duty of a bar to protect its patrons from the foreseeable criminal acts of third parties.  The case name is Nicole Goeser, et al., v. Live Holdings Corporation, et al., (No. M2012-01241-COA-R3-CV; September 4, 2013).  This appeal came out of Judge Hamilton Gayden’s court in Nashville after granting summary judgment to the defendants. Continue reading


Duty to Stop Patrons From Driving Drunk

Until recently, there was no duty in Tennessee to prevent patrons from driving drunk.  However, a recent Court of Appeals decision calls into question whether premises owners have a duty to take action when a patron is obviously drunk and likely to leave the premises in a vehicle.  See JOLYN CULLUM, ET. AL. v. JAN McCOOL, ET. AL.  In this case, the defendant, McCool, entered Wal-Mart and attempted to buy prescription medication.  The Wal-Mart employees refused to sell McCool prescription drugs because McCool was obviously inebriated.  McCool then lost her cool, became belligerent, and was ordered her to leave the premises.  She subsequently backed her car into an unsuspecting patron who was loading groceries into the back of her vehicle.  Continue reading


Legislative Update: Senate Bill 56 Effective July 1, 2013

Senate Bill 56 has been assigned Public Chapter 317 by the Secretary of State.  The Act became official on April 29, 2013, and will be effective for all actions accruing on or after July 1, 2013.  For those defending bars, restaurants, and premise owners at large, this Act overturns joint and several liability for intentional torts on premises.  Here is a link to the Bill:


Legislative Update: TN Tort Reform SB 56 / HB 1099

I have been reporting on some changes to tort reform in Tennessee that will positively affect Tennessee premise owners.  Please see my prior post on this legislation for a more detailed discussion.  In sum, House Bill 1099 overturns joint and several liability in several key situations.  It recently passed the Tennessee House and is now on Governor Haslam’s desk for passage. Here is a link to the Bill Summary:


Tennessee Dram Shop Act: “Visible intoxication” Exception

Drunk ImageThe plain language of Section 57-10-102(2) requires a sale of an alcoholic beverage or beer to “a visibly intoxicated person.”  The adverb “visibly” means “capable of being seen” or “exposed to view.” Taking “visibly” together with “intoxicated”, the only logical conclusion is that Section 102(2) requires proof that the alleged intoxication was perceptible or capable of being seen by the server or bartender at the time of sale. Continue reading


Tennessee Dram Shop Liability



Traditionally, the term “dram shop” referred to a shop where spirits were sold by the dram, a small unit of liquid.  A dram is nearly equivalent to a teaspoon and in years past was used to refer to a small amount of Scottish whiskey.  So, if you want to befuddle your local barkeep, try ordering a “wee dram of Laphroaig” in your best Scottish accent.

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Tort Reform – Joint and Several Liability

The Tennessee Legislature has proposed major reforms that will abrogate joint and several liability in several key areas. Senate Bill 56 breezed through the Senate (25 ayes to 7 nays) on February 11, 2013. House Bill 1099 is identical to Senate Bill 56 and is currently with the Calendar and Rules Committee awaiting a vote in the House. According to sources, House Bill 1099 is expected to be up for a vote within a week. Here are the links to SB 56 and HB 1099: Continue reading