The Ohio Supreme Court has ruled the Living Room strip club in Dayton is not liable for injuries caused by an intoxicated dancer who left the club and crashed her car.
Ohio's "Dram Shop Act" limits the legal responsibility of liquor permit holders for acts of an intoxicated customer or an intoxicated worker after they leave, if they cause an accident after leaving the establishment where drinks are sold.
The Supreme Court's 6-1 decision found the Dram Shop Act applied in a case where Mary Montgomery, a dancer at a Harrison Twp. strip club, The Living Room, was provided drinks by patrons and on her drive home hit a vehicle.
The passenger in the vehicle struck, Nichole Johnson, sustained over $1 million in medical expenses from her injuries in 2010.
The Court affirmed a Second District Court of Appeals decision that found Johnson could only pursue a claim against the club and its owner under the Dram Shop Act.
Justice R. Patrick DeWine concluded that law holds the club responsible in limited circumstances including if the owner or an employee knowingly sold drinks to a "noticeably intoxicated person," reads a release. He wrote the trial court concluded that Montgomery was not noticeably intoxicated when she left and found the club was not liable for the damage, according to a news release.
The trial court had allowed Johnson to pursue a separate common law negligence claim against Michael C. Ferraro and his business, Thirty-Eight Thirty, Inc., which operated The Living Room strip club in Dayton.
A jury awarded Johnson $2.85 million from Thirty-Eight Thirty, but the Second District Court of Appeals reversed the decision, finding that Johnson could only sue using the Dram Shop Act. The trial court did not allow the jury to consider her Dram Shop Act claim.
According to the release: In a dissenting opinion, Justice William M. O'Neill wrote he finds it hard to believe the Court would allow the outcome to stand, taking away the verdict to Johnson and not sending the case back where the jury, not the magistrate, could consider whether under the Dram Shop Act, the club was responsible for her injuries.