On June 9, 2012, two men, Terrance and James, had smoked pot and drank screwdrivers at a friend’s house. Each had about twelve shots of vodka before heading out to the defendant bar*. The bar served the two men drinks without hesitation. When Terrance started a fight with some military men, a bartender ejected both Terrance and James from the bar. When Terrance returned to the bar to argue with the staff, another bartender offered to call him a cab rather than drive. But Terrance was so offended and drove off in a rage.
RCW 66.44.200(1) prohibits the sale of alcohol to “any person apparently under the influence of liquor.” Businesses that violate the statute by serving drunk drivers are civilly liable to third party victims for damages caused by their patrons. Barrett v. Lucky Seven Saloon, Inc., 152 Wn.2d 259, 262-63 (2004). Barrett recognized that the older “obviously intoxicated” common law standard had been replaced by “apparently under the influence.”
After the drunk duo left the defendant bar, they searched for more alcohol, but was refused service when a more responsible bartender saw that they were clearly intoxicated. They then drove down the street to get food at a Jack in the Box. But because he was so drunk, Terrance was unable to pull through the drive through. Instead, he pulled the car perpendicular to the building and almost hit it. Witnesses could tell that the two were drunk from the way they talked and behaved.
A witness said that Terrance tore out of the lot in front of them, almost striking another vehicle. With horror, witnesses watched Terrance cross the centerline, almost hitting a truck head on. But the truck was able to avoid impact only by driving up onto the shoulder. At that point, Terrance jerked his car back into his lane, but oversteered and crossed the fog line into the shoulder. That’s when he struck “something.” As witnesses pulled over and got out of their vehicles, they realized what Terrance had hit. He had hit three teenage boys who were on their way to get some snacks at the 7-11, one of whom was perched on a bicycle.
*Defendant bar’s name is confidential as is the settlement amount per the settlement agreement.
Read the redacted settlement demand here.