‘Tis the Season for Reason: Business Owner and Social Host Liability for Holiday Drinking
Posted on Oct 25, 2017 by TURNER PADGET LITIGATION TEAM
With the holiday season rapidly approaching – and with it, a succession of alcohol-fueled celebrations – business owners with liquor permits and those planning to host parties should consider what could happen if they are not appropriately vigilant when deciding whom to serve cups of cheer.
Liquor liability for businesses
South Carolina courts have become more severe in punishing those who serve alcohol to people who are intoxicated, so businesses with liquor permits should review their liquor liability policies – not only their insurance policies, but also their internal protocols.
Liquor permit holders already know they can’t sell alcohol to people under 21 years of age or who are intoxicated. But they also should be aware that state law defines “intoxicated” very broadly. Even if a customer doesn’t appear to be drunk when served, business owners can be held liable for the customer’s later actions, such as an accident or a fight, if they know the customer had something to drink before coming to the establishment and the business continued to serve them alcohol. Moreover, business owners can be held personally liable for the behavior of those who overindulge. This means that plaintiffs can go after a business owner’s personal as well as business assets. The costs can be overwhelming: In one case, a bar and its owners were held liable for $10 million dollars.continue reading