Still No Dram Shop Liability in Maryland 12/6/2013

The Maryland Court of Appeals recently declined to impose dram shop liability for Maryland restaurants and tavern owners in the case of Warr v. JMGM Group, LLC.    The case was handled and argued by McCarthy Wilson partner Bob Hetherington, who successfully obtained summary judgment on behalf of the defendant restaurant after it was sued under a theory of dram shop liability by the family members and representatives of the victims of a drunken driving accident.  The Court of Appeals upheld the trial court’s grant of summary judgment, holding that a tavern or restaurant has “no duty to control a third person’s conduct so as to prevent personal harm to another, unless a ‘special relationship’ exists either between the actor and the person injured or between the actor and the person injured.”  The Court went on to hold that while it had the power to change the common law, it would not impose dram shop liability and that any such measures to create dram shop liability in the State of Maryland would have to be made through the legislative process.