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Facts of the Case Essay

The video of case number 82A04-8876-CV-285, White vs. Gibbs and O’Malley’s Tavern, is a video where the defendant is going before judges seeking summary judgment as a matter of law in their favor. Debbie White has sued Patrick Gibbs under the civil provisions of Indiana’s Dram Shop Act, Indiana Code 7.1-5-10-15.5. This case was brought in diversity before the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana due to the parties residing in two different states. The case will be decided under Indiana state law. The purpose of this trial is to argue the motion of summary judgment. A summary judgment is “a procedure used during civil litigation to quickly resolve a case without a trial. The judge grants summary judgment only if there are no disputes as to the material facts of the case and the party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law”.

The plaintiff in this case is Mrs. White and attorneys Amanda Babot and Jackson Walsh represent her. The defendant in this case is Mr. Gibbs and O’Malley’s Tavern being represented by Attorneys Benjamin Walton and Jordan Van Meter.

Mr. Walton is addressing the issue of actual knowledge of visual intoxication as required under the Indiana Dram Shop Act. Mr. Walton argued that Mr. Hard was not engaging in any activities that would have adequately demonstrated intoxication. Hard was simply sitting at a bar in the presence of John Daniels, the bartender. The only evidence of Mr. Hart being intoxicated is that he was more “chatty” than usual. According to the Indiana Supreme Court, “if increased talkativeness is the only evidence, that is insufficient as a matter of law to support any reasonable inference of actual knowledge.” (Delta ta Delta). Mr. Van Meter is addressing the issue of approximate causation for the defense. Mr. Hard’s criminal act is a super ceding intervening cause, which breaks the cause of connection between the negligence of the defendant and the injury. Also, because this was a criminal act, the injury that resulted was not a natural and probable consequence that was reasonably foreseeable in light of the circumstances.

Mr. Walsh, the plaintiff’s attorney, is presenting the issue of actual knowledge of intoxication. Mr. Walsh is arguing against summary judgment based on two reasons. First, Indiana Courts have held that when a reasonable inference of evidence and circumstances of a case could result in more than one conclusion, summary judgment is inappropriate. Second, the jury could infer that the bartender had actual knowledge of the visible intoxication of Mr. Hard when he last served him alcohol.

Ms. Babot is arguing against summary judgment based on approximate cause due to three reasons. First, there are reasonable inferences that a jury could make in favor of the plaintiff. Second, the injuries to Mrs. White were the reasonable and foreseeable consequences of serving an intoxicated patron. Thirdly, a criminal can be the intervening act that does not break the chain of causation because the act is reasonably foreseeable. Ms. Babot listed four factors that a judge has to look at when considering approximate. What and how much alcohol was consumed, what is the amount of time it was served in, the conditions of the patron before leaving the bar, and the condition of the patron immediately after leaving.

Facts There were previous incidents where Mr. Hard and Mr. White had altercations. On one incident, Hard and Mr. White were in a physical altercation and had to be separated. During this incident, Mr. Hard was sober. This shows that there is a history of Mr. Hart trying to physically hurt Mr. White. In this particular case, Mr. and Mrs. White went to O’Malley’s Tavern. Edward Hard, Mrs. White’s former lover, was also at the tavern that night.

Mr. Hard’s bar tab shows that he purchased 13 alcohol drinks, in a 2 hour and 40 minute period. Before Mrs. White arrived at the Tavern, he had five drinks. In roughly a half hour, John Daniels, the bartender, served Edward Hart five shots of whisky and one beer. Mr. Daniels was the only bartender working the night of July 28th so he served all the shots of liquor and other alcoholic beverages to Mr. Hard.

When Mr. Hard finished his last shot of liquor, Hard tried to stand up from his barstool and tripped over a pool stick and fell. The bartender was not in the room when Hart fell. By the time John Daniels came back into the room, Edward Hard was already up and back on his bar stool. The bartender then served him another beer.

When Mr. Hard saw Mr. and Mrs. White leaving, he finished his drink and proceeded to pursue them. At 7:43 pm, he was served his last drink. Five minutes later he paid and leaves. Once outside, Mr. Hard raised his hand in an attempt to strike one of them, but as he swung, he fell to the ground.

Once the Whites were in their car and leaving. Mr. Hard started his car and sped out of the parking lot recklessly hitting cars and other items on his way out. Mr. Hard was also swerving erratically while driving after Mr. and Mrs. White. The 911 call showed that Mr. Hard was on the wrong side of the road when Mrs. White made a left hand turn. Mrs. White also said that Mr. Hard was following them. Before the collision, Mr. Hard did not slow down as he drove straight into Mrs. White car. At 7:55 p.m., the police report is taken for the accident. Mr. Hard was disheveled, swaying, staggering, unable to speak coherently, and having poor hand-eye coordination.

Issue

The legal issue is whether the O’Malley’s Tavern is legally responsible for the Mrs. White’s injuries and Mr. White’s death. If the bartender had actual visual knowledge of Mr. Hard’s intoxication, then the tavern can be held responsible for the incident. [What is the legal issue that this case hinges on? Possibly, whether or not the Dram law applies and if so how- you figure this one out from the video? State what the issue is. This is probably only 1 or 2 sentences.]

Analysis

Mr. Walton and Mr. Van Meter have the more conviencing argument in this trial. If the bartender was not in the room to witness Mr. Hard fall down while he was still drinking, then there was no action to show the level of Mr. Hard’s intoxication. It would be difficult to gauge how intoxicated Mr. Hard was based on him drinking. The first time that the bartender would have truly noticed that he was intoxicated was after Mr. Hard had finished drinking and fell down when he tried to hit Mr. White as he was leaving.

Since there was a history of altercations between Mr. Hard and Mr. White, as well as the same night of the accident, it is safe to reason that Mr. Hard running into the White’s vehicle was meant to cause harm to Mr. White. This would make the action premeditated and thus a criminal offense, not negligence on the tavern behalf.


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