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Drunk driver’s estate not liable under Dram Shop Act (access required)

By ruling the estate of an underage drunk driver is not liable for the death of one of her passengers who left behind a young son, the North Carolina Court of Appeals has rejected an argument to expand the scope of the state’s Dram Shop Act. The decision of first impression arises from a single-vehicle crash that killed the driver and her two passengers in Carolina Beach in 2008. The young son of one passenger sued the bar that served the 20-year-old driver the night of the wreck. The boy’s suit, brought on his behalf by a guardian ad litem, sought compensation under the state’s Dram Shop Act for his father’s death. The statute holds businesses that serve alcohol liable to anyone who is injured by a drunken patron.

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