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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

NJ Supreme Court will hear case about drunken motorcyclist who’s suing the restaurant for his injuries

You may remember reading about Frederick Voss, the Tiffany’s Restaurant patron who decided to ride his motorcycle home in November 2006 with a blood alcohol level twice the legal limit.  He crashed it into a car and injured only himself and pleaded guilty to DWI, but decided to sue the Toms River establishment for the injuries he caused himself under the dram shop act.  The act was established in 1987 to create a civil remedy allowing the victims of drunk drivers to sue the licensed alcoholic beverage server for their injuries.  It isn’t typically the drunk driver himself who sues under the act. 

The New Jersey Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case of Voss v. Tranquilino, which will decide whether drunken drivers injured in accidents they cause can sue the liquor establishments that served them.   

According to a report in the New Jersey Law Journal, Tiffany’s asked the court to throw the case out for failure to state a claim, because insurance law states that a person convicted of drunken driving “shall have no cause of action for his or her injuries,” but the motion was denied in Ocean County Superior Court.  The Appellate Division cited a lack of Legislative intent to immunize tavern owners as part of their decision’s rationale.  Voss says that he isn’t responsible for his injuries, because apparently the restaurant should have been responsible for his alcoholic beverage consumption. 

The New Jersey Supreme Court receives high marks for agreeing to hear this case.  Hopefully, they will find that Voss is responsible for his self-inflicted injuries.  We’ll be following this case for you. 

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