DRAM SHOP ACT-PREEMPTION OF NEGLIGENCE CLAIM

September 26th, 2022 by Rieders Travis in Negligence

Murray v. Frick, et al., Pa. Civil No. 2021-C-1254 (C.P. Lehigh May 2, 2022) (Caffrey, J.)  There is no Pennsylvania appellate decision addressing the precise issue of whether § 4-497 of the Dram Shop Act preempts a common law negligence claim against a licensee, and there is disagreement among the Common Pleas Courts on this issue.  The Superior Court has clearly described the section as liability-limiting.  It is clearly a provision designed specifically to shield licensees, except in those instances where a patron served was visibly intoxicated.  Certain Pennsylvania trial courts have determined that the affect of this section is to limit the liability of licensees to third persons to the sale of alcohol to visibly intoxicated persons.  The court finds the reasoning employed by these common courts persuasive in view of how the Pennsylvania Superior Court has described the purpose and intent of § 4-497.  The section is limiting in that it protects the licensee from liability to third parties unless the patron was visibly intoxicated.  It operates to preempt the common law negligence action against the licensee.  Therefore, these common law sections of the complaint will be stricken.

Attorney Cliff Rieders

Attorney Cliff RiedersCliff Rieders is a Nationally Board Certified Trial Lawyer practicing personal injury law. A large part of his practice involves multi-district litigation, including cases related to pharmaceuticals, vitamin supplements and medical devices. He is admitted in several state and federal courts, as well as the Supreme Court of the United States. Rieders is the past regional president of the Federal Bar Association and is a life member of the distinguished American Law Institute, which promulgates proposed rules adopted by many state courts. He is a past president of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, formerly Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association. As a founder of the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority, he served on the Board for 15 years.

Not only has Rieders held many highly esteemed, leadership positions, he authored legislation related to the Patient Safety Authority and the Mcare Act, which governs medical and hospital liability actions in Pennsylvania. He authored texts upon which both practitioners and judges rely, including Pennsylvania Malpractice Laws and Forms, and Financial Responsibility Law Issues in Pennsylvania, the latter governing auto and truck collisions in Pennsylvania. In addition, he wrote several books on the practice of law in Pennsylvania regarding wrongful death and survivor actions, insurance bad faith, legal malpractice claims and worker rights, among others. Rieders also serves as a resource to practitioners as a regular speaker for Celesq, an arm of the world’s largest legal publisher, Thomson Reuters West Publishing.

As recognition of his wide range of contribution to his profession and of his dedication to protecting the rights of his clients, he received numerous awards, among them the George F. Douglas Amicus Curiae Award, the Milton D. Rosenberg Award, the B’nai B’rith Justice Award, and awards of recognition from the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers. [ Attorney Bio ]