Lawyer explains potential legal implications of overserving patrons

Charleston County News

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- This week the family of Harry M. Gilbert, III, deceased,  filed suit, requesting a jury trial against Gabriella B. Bennett, Felix, LLC, and King Street Dispensary.

According to the court records Bennett visited both Felix and Dispensary, where she continued to be served alcohol, despite being visibly intoxicated. 

The suit alleges the bars allowed Bennett to get in her car and drive on the roadways drunk. Records show Bennett hit and killed Gilbert, who was riding his bike on King Street. 

This case brings up the question of who is responsible when a bar or restaurant over serves it’s patrons? Local attorney David Aylor says that it’s illegal in the state of South Carolina to serve alcohol to someone who is already intoxicated.

“If someone is overserved at a bar or restaurant, and then they ultimately get in a vehicle and cause an accident or injure a person or even kill another person,” says Aylor, “that liability could come back on to the bar under the dram shop law which has been in place for a very long time.”​​

The suit alleges the bars,  Felix and Dispensary, were grossly negligent for overserving Bennett and then allowing her to leave the bars. They and Bennett are being summoned for a future jury trial.

Aylor says that bars and restaurants have insurance specifically for legal instances. However, he believes it’s necessary to take the steps necessary to prevent over serving in the first place.

“It really starts with the training of the employees at the bar or restaurant, making sure that the employees understand that [patrons] must be 21 years old to consume alcohol, says Aylor.

He explains that it’s better to be cautious when it comes to serving. “If you feel like they have consumed too much alcohol, that they have a safe ride home, and that they most importantly aren’t served any more,” he says.

All parties involved in this case were contacted for comment. The plaintiff’s attorney’s have asked to not make any comments for the time being.

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