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“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.

 

News Release: MRR attorneys named 2016 Ohio Super Lawyers and Rising Stars

MRR is pleased to announce that two of its Ohio attorneys have been selected as 2016 Ohio Super Lawyers and another four have been named 2016 Ohio Rising Stars by Super Lawyers magazine.

The Super Lawyers selection process evaluates lawyers based upon multiple criteria, including professional achievement and peer recognition; honors and awards; firm and bar involvement and leadership; scholarship and professional writings; community service and pro bono activities; and other outstanding achievements.

“Rising Stars” are the top up-and-coming attorneys who have been practicing for no more than 10 years. Each year, no more than 2.5 percent of the lawyers in the state are selected by the research team at Super Lawyers to receive this honor.

MRR’s attorneys selected as 2016 Ohio Super Lawyers:

Cleveland: Todd M. Raskin and Frank H. Scialdone

Todd Raskin

Raskin

Frank Sciadone

Scialdone

 

 

 

 

 

 


MRR’s attorneys selected as 2016 Ohio Rising Stars:

Cleveland: Tami Z. Hannon, Mary Beth Klemencic, and Cara M. Wright.

Columbus: Stacy V. Pollock

Tami Hannnon

Hannon

Mary Beth Klemencic

Klemencic

Cara Wright

Wright

SVP.V2

Pollock

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