Dram Shop and Social Host Liability


Generally speaking, “Dram Shop” liability refers to liability of a licensee (a person licensed to sell alcohol by a governmental entity) when the licensee serves or provides alcohol to either a visibly intoxicated adult or a minor, and that adult or minor injures someone as a result of intoxication. Dram Shop liability typically arises either directly from a statute or law (as in New Jersey), or from the common law based on a duty described in a statute (as in Pennsylvania). A similar concept is “Social Host” liability, which provides for liability for a non-licensee serving or providing alcohol to a minor, or in some instances an intoxicated adult as well. Laws on Dram Shop and Social Host liability vary from state to state, and the application of Dram Shop and Social Host liability can differ both state to state, and even within a state.

Our attorneys have significant expertise in the analysis and defense of Dram Shop and Social Host claims, on behalf of licensees, non-licensed businesses, and private persons. We have successfully defended matters involving Dram Shop and Social Host claims, as well as tangential issues that can arise related to the service or use of alcohol in conjunction with a business (such as actions of intoxicated persons on a premises irrespective of service of alcohol). Knowledge of the appropriate law, combined with identification of the key facts and circumstances, is the basis of any successful Dram Shop or Social Host defense. Ricci Tyrrell Johnson & Grey can provide this critical knowledge and identification of facts to help any business or person protect themselves when such matters arise.

Practice Group Members: John E. Tyrrell, James W. Johnson, Francis J. Grey, Jr., Michael T. Droogan, Jr., Patrick J. McStravick