Bar Not Responsible For Patron’s Death

A mother brought a wrongful death and survival action against a bar that sold alcohol to her minor son, alleging that the son’s fatal injuries were caused by the illegal sale of alcohol. The undisputed facts revealed that the son either fell or jumped out of the bed of a moving pickup truck after leaving the bar. He was then struck by an unknown vehicle and died as a result of his injuries.

The bar successfully moved for summary judgment, arguing that the deceased would fall or jump out of a bed of a moving pickup truck and be run over was beyond the scope of the duty imposed upon the bar. The mother appealed the ruling on the grounds that the bar had not satisfied its necessary burden of proof.

The Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal agreed with the trial court and found that the bar could not have reasonably foreseen that its actions of selling alcohol to a minor would have led to the following events: (1) the decedent being placed in the bed of a pickup truck; (2) the truck being driven home with the decedent in the bed of the truck; (3) the decedent either falling or jumping from the bed of the truck; (4) the decedent landing and remaining in a lane of travel in the roadway; and (5) the decedent being struck and killed by another motorist. The court reasoned that while the bar breached its legal duty not to sell alcohol to minors, the death was too far removed from the scope of the bar’s duty. Therefore, the court held that the illegal sale of alcohol to the decedent was not the legal or proximate cause of his death.

Kulka v. Shag II, d/b/a “The Bulldog Pool Hall”

Robert N. Popich