In Barnes v. Smith, a recent case in front of the Georgia court of appeals, a woman filed suit against the owner of a tavern in Rockdale County, Georgia. The woman was injured in a car accident with a drunk driver who had been drinking at the tavern. The driver drank at the tavern in the afternoon and returned at around 11:00 p.m. that night, when he drank half of a beer and another “Jager bomb” drink. The bartender who served the driver noticed that the driver’s eyes were glassy and that he was acting belligerent. She tried to take the driver’s car keys and offered to call him a cab or drive him home. The man refused. Then, the bartender tried to prevent him from leaving, but the driver was able to leave despite her efforts. The bartender did not call the police at any point.
The plaintiff filed suit under Georgia’s Dram Shop Law, O.C.G.A. 51-1-40. Specifically, the claims were against the bar, the company that owned the bar, and the sole shareholder of that company. The plaintiff also alleged the tavern negligently trained and supervised its employees.
At trial, the bar and the shareholder moved for summary judgment, claiming that the plaintiff did not make out her claims and that the case should be dismissed. The trial court agreed and dismissed all claims against these two defendants. The plaintiff appealed the dismissal against these two parties. In a recent opinion, the Georgia Court of Appeals agreed with the defendants, finding that there was not sufficient evidence to prove the woman’s negligent supervision claim. The woman had to provide evidence that the business knew or should have known of the bartender’s likelihood to engage in the behavior that resulted in the woman’s injuries. The woman did not provide any specific evidence that the bartender required additional supervision based on her history.