Tiger Woods appeared as a named defendant in a wrongful death lawsuit involving one of his employees. According to the lawsuit, the restaurant the Woods operated in Jupiter, Florida fostered a culture of drinking and carousing at the bar. The family of Nicholas Immesberger claims that the restaurant knew that Immesberger had a serious drinking problem and still let him get wasted at the bar. When he left, he drove home, crashing and dying in a one-car accident along the way.
Recently, Tiger Woods’ name has been dismissed from the lawsuit, but his restaurant is still the target of the wrongful death. Immesberger’s family blames management at the restaurant, including Woods’ current girlfriend Erica Herman, for allowing Immesberger to leave the premises and get into a vehicle.
Nicholas Immesberger worked as a bartender at Woods’ restaurant in Jupiter. His shift finished at 3 PM and afterward, he drank at the bar till 6 PM. According to the lawsuit, Immesberger had a blood alcohol concentration of .256 which is more than three times the legal limit. Immesberger was going 70 mph in a 55 mph zone when his car crashed into a tree.
According to the civil complaint, the defendants knew that Immesberger attended alcoholics anonymous meetings. It further claims that management fostered a culture of drinking and encouraged employees to drink at the bar.
The Law Involving This Case
Florida laws differ from Georgia laws when it comes to proprietor liability in alcohol-related accidents. Florida laws give broad immunity to proprietors who have customers that go off and harm someone else after coming from their establishment. There is, however, one notable exception. That’s when the individual is known to have an alcohol problem or a history of alcohol abuse. The plaintiff must be able to prove, however, what the proprietor did or did not know about the plaintiff. This can be a very high standard to overcome.
Georgia Dram Shop Liability Laws
Most civil laws differ from state to state. In Georgia, if someone gets into a car after being served an absurd amount of alcohol at the bar, the drunk person is responsible for the accident. In addition, the bar or restaurant that served that individual alcohol may also be held liable. Georgia is one of 30 states with such laws on the books. In each state, the criteria for a successful action against a named defendant is different. In Florida, the standard is very high in these cases and most actions against a “dram shop” (a place that serves alcohol) are dismissed before they see a jury. This is especially true in cases where the only person injured or killed is the plaintiff.
In Georgia, a plaintiff need only prove that the establishment served alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person or the individual to whom the establishment served alcohol was under the age of 21. In these cases, the plaintiff must also show that the individual who went out and injured the plaintiff while drunk was consuming alcohol that the dram shop was serving. In other words, the dram shop can claim that they brought their own alcohol to the establishment and thus the dram shop is not liable for their actions.
Social Host Liability
Georgia’s dram shop laws don’t just apply to bars and restaurants. They also apply to individuals who are hosting parties where alcohol is made available to guests. If the social host makes alcohol available to anyone under the age of 21 and they go out and injure someone else (or themselves) then the social host may be liable for damages related to their injuries.
If the host provides alcohol to someone who is over the age of 21, and this individual causes someone else injuries, the social host may be partly liable for their damages. A plaintiff would be required to prove that the social host knew that the individual intended on driving and allowed them to do so in a state of inebriation.
So let’s take a look at one scenario. A social host provides alcohol at a party and one of their guests is visibly intoxicated. The social host tells the guest that they should not go out onto the road in their current state, but the guest demands to be allowed to leave. In this case, the social host expressed concerns about the guest’s present state of inebriation but is not expected to hold the guest down or otherwise incapacitate them. Since the host made the effort, the host would not be liable.
Back to the Tiger Woods Lawsuit
If this incident had occurred in Georgia, the Woods’ establishment may very well be liable for their employee’s death. There are two major reasons for this. Firstly, they served alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person. Secondly, they knew this individual was going to drive home. In the case of an employee, management should have been aware that the individual they were serving alcohol to commuted by car on their way to and from work.
Secondly, it would be hard to convince a jury that an individual with a blood alcohol concentration of .256 was not visibly inebriated while they were serving him alcohol.
Complicating the matter, however, is the fact that Immesberger didn’t go out and injure or kill another person; he killed himself. In these cases, the dram shop is assigned a part of the blame, but the individual driving the car is assigned the majority of the blame. In Georgia, that means Immesberger’s family would be barred from filing a lawsuit because Immesberger was more than 50 percent responsible for the accident. In Florida, however, you can file a lawsuit even if you are 99 percent responsible for an accident.
Car Accident Attorney Acworth
If you’ve been injured by a drunk driver in Georgia, you are entitled to recover damages related to your medical expenses, missed time from work, and pain and suffering. If you lost a loved one, you can recover damages related to the lost income, your own grief, and the loss of companionship. Talk to the Roger Ghai Law Offices today to set up a free consultation.