In December 2018, an employee at The Woods restaurant in Jupiter died in a drunk driving accident. His 1999 Corvette, traveling over 100 miles per hour, swerved across three highway lanes and flipped over. The young man driving the car, Nicholas Immesberger, had a very high BAC, 0.256, which is roughly 3 times the legal limit. His parents filed a wrongful death lawsuit against The Woods restaurant, and its owner, golfer Tiger Woods.
Now the case is going to trial. A year ago, Woods was dropped as a defendant, as was his girlfriend who worked as the restaurant’s general manager at the time. But the company itself is still being sued for continuing to serve Mr. Immesberger even though he had a reputation for struggling with alcohol.
Who Was Responsible for the Death?
We normally think that a drunk driver is to blame for his own collision. After all, he made the choice to drink, and no one else is to blame if he was an alcoholic.
But Florida has an interesting “dram shop” law that allows those injured by drunk drivers to sue the tavern or other establishment that served the driver. Florida’s law also allows the drunk driver himself to file a lawsuit. When the driver dies, the person’s surviving family members can file—which happened here.
Florida Statute §768.125 states that a person who sells alcoholic beverages to someone is not liable for any injuries causes unless one of the two apply:
- They furnished alcohol to someone underage
- They furnished alcohol to someone “habitually addicted” to alcohol
In this case, the parents alleged that the restaurant should have known that their son had an alcohol problem and should have stopped serving him.
Will the Parents Succeed in their Lawsuit?
According to media reports, the restaurant is set to be inspected early this month by the plaintiffs’ attorneys and expert. We are not sure what they are looking for.
We expect more legal maneuvering before any trial starts. A key question will be what staff at The Woods knew about their employee’s prior history of alcoholism. Florida differs from other states, where the dram shop law kicks in only if the defendant saw the drinker was visibly intoxicated. In our state, it’s enough if the defendant knew of the drinker’s addiction.
Was a Loved One Killed by a Drunk Driver?
Our Miami wrongful death attorneys will pursue all avenues for compensation, including a dram shop case. Contact our firm today, 305-371-2692, to schedule a free consultation.