In this pub owner serves excessive alcohol case(Hansen v. Sulyma, 2013 BCCA 349), the injury claimant was left a quadriplegic as the result of a car accident at Blubber Bay Road on Texada Island. She was seated as a passenger in a vehicle stopped on the shoulder of the road when the impaired defendant, having just finished drinking at the local pub, went wide on a curve rear ending the claimants vehicle.The trial judge  allocated 25 % of liability to the driver of the claimants vehicle for not putting on hazard lights , 70 % to the driver that rear ended the vehicle and only 5% to the so-called “pub defendants” that served the alcohol responsible for the crash . The trial judge observed:

[The server] was aware from her knowledge of [the driver’s] bar tab that he had already consumed three or four two-ounce drinks of whiskey.  She failed to meet the standard of care required when she continued to serve alcohol to [the driver] and did not evict him from the bar or inform him that he would not be allowed to consume any more liquor in the bar. She also took no action to ascertain whether [the driver]would be driving when he left the bar, although I infer that she would have realized that that was likely, and she took no steps to stop him from driving.

The actions of [the server] contributed to [the driver’s] state of intoxication and are causally related to the collision that occurred very shortly after [the driver] left the [the pub].  [At paras. 64-5.]

The Court of Appeal was persuaded that the allocation of minimal responsibility of 5% to the pub defendants was grossly disproportionate to their comparative blameworthiness, including their disregard of their statutory obligations and increased it to 20%.  The Court reiterated the responsibilities of club and pub owners to users of our roads quoting a passage from a judgment of Mackenzie J. in Lum (Guardian ad litem of) v. McLintock (1997) 45 B.C.L.R. (3d) 303 (B.C.S.C.), where she stated:

In pragmatic terms, responsibility placed on commercial hosts is likely to be most effective as a deterrent in keeping intoxicated drivers off the roads. The cost of damage awards should modify rational conduct of commercial hosts directed to maximizing economic advantage … [At para. 27.]

Posted by Personal Injury Lawyer Mr. Renn A. Holness, B.A. LL.B.

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