In the case of Rogers, et al. v. Martin and Brothers, Angela Martin and Brian Brothers hosted a house party together. Towards the end of the party, Brothers and two guests, Jerry Chambers and Paul Michalik were involved in a fist fight. As a result of the fight, Martin saw Chambers was bleeding from and his face and that Michalik was lying motionless on the ground and would later die shortly after. These personal injuries would result in Chambers’ bankruptcy trustee and Michalik’s estate suing Martin for negligence. They were claiming that she caused Michalik’s injuries because she furnished alcohol in violation of Indiana’s Dram Shop Act. As a response, Martin filed a motion for summary judgment which the trial court granted in her favor.
The case went up to the Indiana Supreme Court where they reversed and affirmed in part. They held that summary judgment was improper on the negligence claim. As a landowner, Martin owed Michalik a duty to exercise reasonable care for his safety while he was on her premises. Although Martin did not have a duty to protect Michalik from the foreseeable fight, she had a duty to mitigate those injuries as the landowner. It is a question of fact for the jury whether she breached that duty by going back to bed instead of doing something differently like calling 911. The Court held that summary judgment was proper on the Dram Shop Act claim. Indiana’s Dram Shop Act says that a person does not furnish alcohol by providing it to someone who already possesses it. The beer was jointly paid for and possessed by the parties so Martin could not have violated the Dram Shop Act.
If you or a loved one have been affected by an accident or death, contact an experienced personal injury attorney at Hurst Limontes, LLC. We have decades of combined experience fighting for our clients in any number of personal injury claims. Call 317-636-0808 or email us for a FREE and confidential consultation.