This is my follow up to the blog post regarding the Dram Shop Act in Georgia and it’s expansion to liability on the part of Convenience Stores in Georgia, and in Canton, GA. Prior to the case of Flores et. al. O.C.G.A. 51-1-40, the Dram Shop Act in Georgia, generally referred to liability on the part of an establishment that was licensed to sell alcoholic beverages and could be held liable if such beverages were consumed on the premises licensed for the sale of alcoholic beverages and such consumption, not the sale (emphasis mine), of alcoholic beverages, is the proximate cause of any injury, including death or property damage, inflicted by an intoxicated person upon himself or upon another person.
The Dram Shop Act under O.C.G.A. 51-1-40 subsection (b) expanded this liability to include liability on the part of a person who willfully, knowingly, and unlawfully sells, furnishes or serves alcoholic beverages to a minor (emphasis mine), knowing such minor will soon be driving a motor vehicle or who knowingly sells, furnishes or services (emphasis mine) alcoholic beverages to a person who is in a state of noticeable intoxication, knowing that such person will soon be driving a motor vehicle. These parts of the Dram Shop Act were upheld by the Georgia Supreme Court in the case of Flores et. al.. The Supreme Court of Georgia in Flores et. al., however, expanded the definition of establishments, such as convenience stores as in the case of Flores et. al. and stated, “Because this statute uses the terms “sells, furnishes, or serves alcohol” in the disjunctive, it is clear that it was intended to encompass the sale of an alcoholic beverage at places other than the proverbial dram shop.”
The Supreme Court of Georgia, therefore, disagreed and overruled the Court of Appeals decision, ruled in favor of the Plaintiffs and awarded at or over a $ 1,000,000.000 verdict stating that, “Although the dram shop act makes it clear that it is the consumption of alcohol, not the selling or furnishing, which leads to injuries in this state, it goes on to create two exceptions to the rule for liability purposes: an individual may be liable for injuries if he furnishes or serves alcoholic beverages to a person who is underage, knowing he will soon be driving; and if he furnishes or serves alcoholic beverages to a noticeably intoxicated adult, knowing he will soon be driving. Liability is not imposed under either one of these exceptions, however, unless the furnishing or serving of the alcoholic beverage is the proximate cause of injury. OCGA § 51–1–40. We find these statutory requirements to be straightforward and under the plain language of the statute are equally applicable to convenience stores (emphasis mine) and traditional dram shops.”