3 Bars Pay Millions in Liability for Child’s Death in DUI Crash

dram shop law liabilityIt looks as if the Tipsy Turtle Bar & Grill in Welch, Minnesota is 25 percent liable for a drunk driving crash that occurred in September of 2014, one which killed one child and left another a paraplegic. The North Star, a bar in Rochester, Minnesota, is 20 percent liable, and the nearby Wicked Moose bears 5 percent responsibility.

How and why are such calculations being made? The family of the victims has sued the driver, Gerald Mohs, for damages after it was determined that he had consumed 21 alcoholic drinks before crashing his vehicle into the one carrying the two children.

Dram Shop Law in Minnesota

The basis of this unusual ruling is the Minnesota dram shop law, which allows a person who has been injured by an intoxicated person to seek damages from a licensed alcohol vendor that sold alcohol illegally to that person.

“Illegally,” in this case, would mean selling alcohol to someone who was already obviously intoxicated already. The bar would be liable if the injury was caused by the intoxication – as is clearly the case with drunk driving.

The Tipsy Turtle served about a quarter of the drinks that led to the intoxication in question, the North Star a fifth, and the Wicked Moose five percent. So the money they owe – their part of the $15 million settlement – will be split in that proportion.

Taking the responsibility for a DUI crash apart and doling out parts to bars can’t put lives back together again. All it can do is help the families deal with the financial consequences of their loss. In the greater scheme, the decision will serve as a warning, making bar Minnesota owners more mindful of their responsibility to the public. As long as they serve alcohol, which diminishes people’s ability to make good decisions, the servers must make good decisions for them, or face consequences.