SOUTH CAROLINA SUPREME COURT DECISION 2010
(Heard June 11, 2009 – Filed July 26, 2010)
South Carolina does not have a Dram Shop Act. South Carolina’s civil remedy arises out of crimial statutes.
Case Summary -
In July 2003, Hoyt Helton drove his vehicle across the center line and struck a vehicle in which John Hartfield (father) was a passenger. Helton was killed and Hartfield and his son suffered serious injuries. Hartfield field suit against three bars visited by Helton and the jury returned a verdict awarding Hartfield $8 million and $2 million for Hartfield’s father. The trial court also granted Hartfield’s motion to pierce the corporate veil of the Getaway Lounge & Grill making the owner liable in the amount awarded by the jury. The verdict was appealed to the South Carolina Supreme Court.
The court must prove visible intoxication
The employee “should have known” the patron was intoxicated
Piercing the Corporate Veil
South Carolina statutes (S.C. Code 61-4-580) prohibit employees from knowingly selling alcohol to intoxicated patrons. The statute does not contain a requirement that the intoxicated person be visibly intoxicated.
Knowing a patron was consuming alcohol at your establishment satisfies the statute for “should have known”.
The courts allowed the Corporate Veil to be pierced exposing the permittee to personal liability for selling to an intoxicated patron.