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Friends Who Got Their Own Designated Driver Drunk Not Liable, Says NY Court


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10/11/2010
Jonathan Cooper
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The Nassau County case of Luciere v. Rahner presents a disturbing fact pattern: some friends go into a bar, where they expect to (and ultimately do) become intoxicated. So before their evening gets into "swing," they appoint a designated driver. So far, so good.

But then they go ahead and start ordering alcohol for their designated driver. And the driver obliges. And then gets behind the wheel.

And then they get into an accident, which injures someone.

The question raised in this case was the following: what legal liability, if any, do these friends have for this accident?

The short answer?

None.

As the Court stated: "here, the act of procuring alcoholic beverages for the Defendant, notwithstanding the agreement that he would act as the designated driver, is not, in and of itself, a tortious act. Indeed, the Defendant, was not forced against his will to consume the beverages that were purchased for him. As such, the Third-Party Plaintiff's concerted liability theory is inapplicable here."

(As an aside, it does not appear that the plaintiff is left without recourse; he still may have a viable negligence case against the bar that furnished the liquor under New York's Dram Shop Laws.)

Category: Car Accidents


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