NJ Supreme Court finds that intoxicated patrons can sue businesses for injuries they sustain

Marcus Rayner, executive director of the New Jersey Lawsuit Reform Alliance (NJLRA), issued the following statement following the New Jersey Supreme Court’s decision in Voss v. Tranquilino, which upheld an appellate court decision to permit persons convicted of a DUI offense to sue restaurants for injuries they cause to themselves:

“The Court today has once again defied the will of the legislature to the detriment of business and common sense in New Jersey.  The legislature sought, in plain language, to bar suits against bars and restaurants by intoxicated patrons under the motor vehicle laws of this state. Today drunk drivers can minimize personal responsibility for their actions and sue the restaurateurs of New Jersey for serving them drinks.

“Common sense tells us that pleading guilty to driving while intoxicated shouldn’t legally transfer responsibility from one party to another.  Adults who choose to break the law and endanger others should not have the ability to use our civil court system to collect monetary damages at the expense of New Jersey’s business community. 

The case stems from a 2006 incident in which Fredrick Voss crashed his motorcycle into a car and injured himself.  His blood alcohol level was nearly two-and-a-half times the legal limit.  He pled guilty to a DWI charge but later filed suit against Tiffany’s Restaurant in Toms River under the Dram Shop Act.   

Click here for a copy of the Court’s decision.