§43.1 Claims Against Seller of Alcohol to Minors – Third Person Injured
The Case: Worley v. Weigels, Inc ., 919 S.W.2d 589 (Tenn. 1996).
The Basic Facts: Plaintiffs, parents of a minor injured in an automobile accident while riding with an intoxicated minor driver, brought cause of action under Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 57-4-203(b)(1) and 57-5-301(c) against the Defendant store which sold the beer that the driver consumed. The purchaser of the beer was also underage.
The Bottom Line:
- "With the enactment of these statutes, the legislature made a definite distinction between the basis for civil liability and the basis for criminal liability incident to the sale of alcoholic beverages. These statutes, rather than the duties imposed by criminal statutes,FN1 determine the civil liability of the seller. These statutes declare that the 'consumption' rather than the 'furnishing of' intoxicating beverages is deemed the 'proximate cause of injuries inflicted' by the intoxicated person, except that a sale may be deemed to be the proximate cause when the sale is to a person known to be a minor and whose consumption causes the injury or to a person who is 'obviously intoxicated' and whose consumption caused the injury. Since the purchaser in this case did not consume the beverage purchased, the accident was not caused by the purchaser's consumption of the beverage. Therefore, there is no liability on the seller.
FN1 See e.g., Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 57-3-406(d), 57-3-412(a)(1), 57-4-203(b), and 57-5-301(a), (c) (Supp. 1995)."919 S.W.2d at 593.
- "Under the statute, an action will not lie against a seller of intoxicating beverages unless it is proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the seller knew that the purchaser was a minor and sold intoxicating beverages to him or her anyway." Id.
Other Sources of Note: Biscan v. Brown , 160 S.W.3d 462 (Tenn. 2005) (holding that an individual who gave alcohol to minors in a social context could not be found liable for injuries caused by intoxicated minor driver but that an adult host had a duty to use reasonable care to protect his/her minor guests and third parties from dangers related to drinking and driving).