New York’s Dram Shop law is found in Section 11-101 of the General Obligations Law. Dram Shop laws are strict liability statutes that allow for alcohol vendors to be held liable for their violations in serving people alcohol who are visibly intoxicated or are actually or apparently under 21 years of age. Courts allow for people who are injured as a result of the vendor’s violation of these laws to bring suit for their damages. New York’s law is distinctive in that it allows for a third-party who may never have had any contact with the bar themselves to sue for injuries caused to them by the bar’s intoxicated patrons.
A case brought pursuant to the Dram Shop law is difficult to prove; it requires a showing that the injured person was harmed by an intoxicated person, that there was an unlawful sale of alcohol by the vendor, and the sale of alcohol contributed to the person’s intoxication.
In our most recent Dram Shop case, the plaintiff was sitting at a bar in Brooklyn, when he observed a visibly intoxicated patron continuing to order and be served drinks by the bartender. The patron became more and more intoxicated, and eventually assaulted the plaintiff with a glass. The glass broke and caused the Plaintiff to subsequently lose his eye. Leav & Steinberg presented this evidence to the Court who agreed that the Plaintiff was entitled to a recovery. A judgment was obtained for $1,200,000.