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In 1986, the Louisiana Legislature enacted LSA-R.S. 9:2800.1, entitled "Limitation of liability for loss connected with sale, serving, or furnishing of alcoholic beverages," with the express purpose of placing the responsibility for consequences of intoxication on the intoxicated person, rather than the server of the alcohol.
Daniel Morris and Nathaniel Crowson were riding their bicycles on Perkins Road in Baton Rouge, when they were struck from behind by a vehicle driven by Joseph Branch. Crowson was killed and Morris was severely injured. Consequently, Morris filed suit seeking to recover the damages he suffered. According to Morris, Branch was operating a motor vehicle, under the influence of alcohol, when the vehicle struck him, causing his injuries. It was further alleged that prior to the subject accident, Branch was a patron at the Bulldog BR, LLC (The Bulldog), A Baton Rouge Bar, where he drank a number of alcoholic beverages and was visibly intoxicated. Morris argued that The Bulldog engaged in affirmative acts that increased the peril to Branch, ultimately resulting in the subject incident. In response to the petition, The Bulldog filed a peremptory exception, contending that it was immune from civil liability under LSA-R.S. 9:2800.1, Louisiana's "anti-dram shop" statute. The trial court dismissed The Bulldog from the proceeding with prejudice. Morris appealed.
Should The Bulldog, a Rouge Bar which served alcoholic drinks to the defendant, be held liable for the injury sustained by Morris who was struck by a vehicle driven by the defendant?
The Court noted that under LSA-R.S. 9:2800.1 placed the responsibility for consequences of intoxication on the intoxicated person, rather than the server of the alcohol. The only exceptions to the limitation of liability expressly provided by the statute were when alcoholic beverages are sold or served to minors and to any person who caused or contributed to the consumption of alcoholic beverages by force or by falsely representing that a beverage contains no alcohol. The Court held that the statutory language of LSA-R.S. 9:2800.1 was clear and unambiguous, leaving no room for interpretation beyond the ordinary meaning of the words employed. Accordingly, the Court was constrained to hold that the clear language of the statue provided immunity to The Bulldog for the injuries caused by the intoxication of Mr. Branch, when the only act alleged to have been committed by The Bulldog was serving alcohol to the intoxicated tortfeasor, who was of legal age.