Liability for Over Serving Alcohol In Oklahoma
In v. Velvet Dove Restaurant, Inc., 1986 OK, the Court imposed liability on commercial vendors who served intoxicating beverages to a noticeably intoxicated person for on premises consumption who in turn caused injury to another due to intoxication.
The Court did so on public policy grounds.
We hold today that public policy is better served by holding that the common law principles of negligence are applicable where a commercial vendor for on the premises consumption is shown to have sold or furnished intoxicating beverages to a person who was noticeably intoxicated from which a jury could determine that such conduct creates an unreasonable risk of harm to others who may be injured by the person's impaired ability to operate a motor vehicle.
Based upon compelling reasons we, thus, reject the common law doctrine of tavern owner nonliability in Oklahoma. Brigance v. Velvet Dove Restaurant, Inc., 1986 OK 41 at P24, 725 P.2d at 306-07.
Oklahoma appellate courts have extended Brigance only in carefully defined circumstances. for example, sales to a minor for off premises consumption in which the minor used the beverage, became intoxicated, and caused injury fell under Brigance. Tomlinson v. Love's Country Stores, 1993 OK 83, 854 P.2d 910.
On the other hand, when the minor purchased the beverage but gave it to a third person who caused the injury, the Court did not extent the rule. Sanders v. Cross Town Market, Inc., 1993 OK 25, 850 P.2d 1061; see also Ohio Cas. Ins. Co. v. Todd, 1991 OK 54, 813 P.2d 508, in which the Court declined to extend liability to a self-intoxicated driver; and, Troxell v. Bingham, 1989 OK CIV APP 27, 774 P.2d 1073, where the Court declined to extend Brigance to social providers.
The Brigance standards for imposition of liability focus on the tavern-keeper/vendor's objective observations and perceptions of a patron's state of intoxication. Frank by and Through Gray v. Merciez, 1991 OK CIV APP 14, 806 P.2d 1147.
The Brigance court dealt with liability of a commercial vendor only, and specifically held that even if a breach of duty is found, a plaintiff must still show the furnishing of alcohol was the proximate cause of the injuries. Brigance, 1986 OK 41 at P21, 725 P.2d at 305.