A Troubling Liability Trend for California Bars and Restaurants

Fernald Law Group

A Troubling Liability Trend for California Bars and Restaurants

A San Diego jury awarded $1.5 million against an On The Border restaurant today following an 8-day jury trial. The plaintiff was struck by an employee of the restaurant, who was driving home drunk after attending his birthday party there. On The Border argued that it was not liable for the accident because the birthday party was not sponsored by the restaurant and occurred after the employee clocked out. The plaintiff disputed these facts, contending that the employee enjoyed a birthday tequila shot before clocking out, and that employees routinely sat in the bar for an hour or so after clocking out to await the nightly tip-out. The plaintiff further contended that the restaurant provided him with a free birthday meal and discounted drinks and thus had in effect sponsored the party. perbandingan smartphone

The verdict follows the 2013 decision in Purton v. Marriott International, Inc. (2013) 218 Cal.App.4th 499. In Purton, a Marriott employee struck and killed the plaintiff after attending an employee holiday party sponsored by the hotel. The accident did not occur on the employee’s way home, but after the employee had briefly stopped at his home and then decided to give another employee a ride to her home. The court of appeal ruled that the key issue in terms of determining Marriott’s liability was not whether the employee was acting within the course and scope of his employment at the time of the accident, but instead at the time he became intoxicated. The court reasoned that a jury could well find that the employee was acting within the scope of employment at the time he became intoxicated, based on evidence that the holiday party at which alcohol was served was sponsored by Marriott, that the party was intended to boost employee morale and thus benefited the employer, and that Marriott was well aware that alcohol was being served and consumed at the party.

While unfortunate, in light of this trend, best practices for restaurant and bar owners should probably include a prohibition on employees consuming alcohol on premises, regardless of whether they are on or off the clock.

Fernald Law Group is a trial litigation boutique with offices in Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Our lawyers regularly represent bar and restaurant clients in civil litigation matters.

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