“Person” Means Person In Ohio’s Dram Shop Act

Mary Beth Klemencic
E: mbk@mrrlaw.com

It seems the Ohio Supreme Court agrees with Dr. Seuss’s Horton Hears a Who!
“A person’s a person”

The Supreme Court recently affirmed that Ohio’s Dram Shop Act is the exclusive remedy against liquor permit holders for third parties injured off-premises by an intoxicated person and excludes all other common law negligence claims against the liquor permit holder. In Nichole Johnson v. Mary E. Montgomery, et al., Slip Opinion No. 2017-Ohio-7445, the plaintiff was seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident caused by an intoxicated dancer on her way home from work after leaving the strip club where she danced and was allowed to drink while she worked.

The question before the Court was whether the strip club dancer[1] qualified as an ‘intoxicated person’ under the statute or whether the term included only club patrons.  The plaintiff argued that the Dram Shop Act did not apply to intoxicated workers or independent contractors, but that the term “intoxicated person” in the Act really means “intoxicated patron.”  Plaintiff claimed that since she was injured by an intoxicated worker, and workers and patrons are different, the club was responsible under the common law theory of negligence for failing to act as carefully as a reasonable person would in the same circumstances.

The twist to the plaintiff’s argument was that the club encouraged the dancers to drink on the job and accept drinks from patrons, thereby the club took on additional responsibility.  However, the Justices noted that the dancers were not required to drink.  The club argued the Act applies to “person(s)” no matter whether that “person” is a patron or a worker; there is no difference.

The Court concluded that the phrase “intoxicated person” in Ohio’s Dram Shop Act includes any person, including intoxicated workers or independent contractors, not just a permit holder’s patrons, whose intoxication causes an injury.  “The statute is straightforward” and “does not limit the definition of “person” based on the individual’s relationship to the permit holder.” As Horton Hears A Who has told us, “A person’s a person…”

[1] The dancer paid the club $30 a night to lease space to dance and only wages received were tips from patrons.  No paychecks or W-2s were provided.


Stacy V. Pollock Promoted to Partner at Mazanec, Raskin & Ryder

Mazanec, Raskin & Ryder, Co., L.P.A. (MRR), is proud to announce the promotion of attorney Stacy V. Pollock to partner. Stacy is based in the firm’s Columbus office.

Stacy joined MRR in 2015 as an associate. At MRR, she concentrates her practice on employment and labor law – advising public and private employers in matters involving leave and discipline issues, personnel policy matters and labor and negotiations and arbitrations. When necessary, she defends them in state and federal court.

“We are delighted to reward Stacy’s dedication and hard work with this promotion. She is a talented and ambitious lawyer and we look forward to her ongoing contributions, both to our clients and the firm,” said Joe Nicholas, MRR’s President and Managing Partner.

Accomplished in her profession, Stacy earned the distinction as an Ohio Bar Association Certified Specialist in Labor and Employment Law in early 2017. This certification marks Ms. Pollock as one of a small number of attorneys in the state of Ohio to have earned this distinction.

Ms. Pollock has experience representing clients before various governmental administrative agencies including the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Ohio Civil Rights Commission, the State Personnel Board of Review, the State Employment Relations Board and the Ohio Department of Education. Ms. Pollock also advises clients on workers’ compensation matters and regularly appears before the Industrial Commission. She also has considerable experience in education law, representing schools and school administrators involving employee and student disciplinary matters.

In addition to her Ohio State Bar Association certification in labor and employment law, she is also a Certified Professional in Human Resources through the HR Certification Institute. Ms. Pollock is a member of the Ohio State Bar Association, the Columbus Bar Association, the Ohio Council of School Board Attorneys, and the National School Board Association’s Council of School Attorneys. In addition, she has been selected as a “Best Lawyer in America” for Education Law (2016-2018) and named an Ohio Super Lawyers “Rising Star” in Employment Law by Ohio Super Lawyers magazine (2014-2017).

A graduate of Wittenberg University in 2002, Stacy went on to earn her J.D. from the Chicago-Kent College of Law.

Bidwell Named Chief Operating Officer of Mazanec, Raskin & Ryder

Mazanec, Raskin & Ryder, Co., L.P.A. (MRR), is pleased to announce the promotion of Christina M. Koeth-Bidwell  (Chris) to Chief Operating Officer, after having served as the firm’s Controller over the last 10 years.

“This promotion is well deserved. Chris has been an integral part of MRR’s strategic growth and success, since joining us in 2007,” commented Joe Nicholas, MRR’s President and Managing Partner.

During her tenure, Chris has led and managed a variety of operational activities including financial management and reporting, operations management, IT and facility management and implemented protocols which have improved efficiency in time and billing, security, and various organizational costs. As controller, Chris also assisted with the administration of the firm’s various benefit plans and the execution of the firm’s expansion to Kentucky with the opening of the Lexington office in 2015.

She began her career as a manager and analyst for a multinational manufacturing company and has spent a considerable amount of time since performing strategic development and general accounting functions for both public and privately held companies. Along with her professional responsibilities, she is a member of the National Association for Professional Women (NAPW), Association of Legal Administrators (ALA), Northern Ohio Association for Financial Professionals (NOAFP), Association for Financial Professionals (AFP), and serves as Deputy Patrol Director of the Alpine Valley area of the BMBWAV Ski Patrol, an OEC Instructor and member of the National Ski Patrol. Additionally, Chris is a Certified Cash Manager and Registered Tax Preparer.

Named “VIP Woman of the Year” by NAPW in 2015, Chris is also a board member of the BMBWAV Ski Patrol and NOAFP. She earned her B.S.B.A from John Carroll University and her M.B.A. from Lake Erie College.