Woman Sues Bar Under Dramshop Law After DUI Arrest

A Masury woman is suing the Middlesex Tavern because after being served she was arrested for DUI. The woman suing, Ruth D. Morocco, says that bar employees should not have served her.

Morocco claims that there was negligence and refers to the Dram Shop Law that prohibits serving a patron who is visibly intoxicated. According to Morocco, she began drinking at Middlesex Tavern on April 23, 2009 and into the early morning hours of April 24th. She claims that within the sight of employees, that she fell off her chair and was loud and obnoxious during her time there. At 2a.m., Morocco left the Middlesex Tavern, and on her way home she crashed her vehicle into a ditch and several trees. The Southwest Mercer County Regional Police were called at 2:15a.m.

She is seeking unspecified money for loss of earnings and the ‘ordinary pleasures of life, anguish, pain, and other suspected injuries, including damage to her right knee and ankle which were broken in the crash.

The defendants rebutted that Morocco ordered one drink at 10p.m. then disappeared into the ladies restroom for 20 minutes, and when she emerged she appeared intoxicated. They say Morocco tried to order another drink but the bartender denied the request.

It is possible to sue a bar under dramshop laws but extreme negligence on the part of the bartender must be proven. Businesses in Pennsylvania need to recognize signs of impairment from their patrons, which include slurred speech, drowsiness, stumbling, and glassy, bloodshot eyes. Pennsylvania Liquor Code, of Section 4.493(1), states that it is unlawful to “permit any liquor or malt brewed beverages to be sold, furnished or given, to any person visibly intoxicated, or to any minor.”