On May 11, 2016, a 35-year-old man named Cory Lippmeier left the Horseshoe Casino and got into his Dodge Caliber. While on East I-275, he crashed his car into the back end of a Pontiac Grand Am. He sustained serious injuries; the driver of the Grand Am, Scott E. Petredis, died as a result. Lippmeier was drunk – his BAC was almost two times the legal limit, according to the report in Cincinnati.com – and he now sits in the Hamilton County Jail, facing two charges of vehicular manslaughter.
He is not the only one facing charges. The Horseshoe Casino is also facing fines and the potential revocation of its liquor license by the Ohio Liquor Control Commission. Casino employees knowingly overserved Lippmeier, which makes the casino liable under Ohio’s dram shop laws.
Why Ohio’s dram shop laws are important
People who are drunk cannot make responsible decisions. This is fact. Alcohol affects how chemical messages are sent and received by your brain, while simultaneously increasing the release of dopamine: this is why, even though an intoxicated person’s speech slurs and his or her movements become uncoordinated, that person feels invincible. Your brain cannot handle it.
To combat this, Ohio put its dram shop laws in place. If a patron is too drunk to be rational, the bartender or server is there to ensure that the drinker does not make a poor decision – like getting into a fight, or grabbing the keys. By holding bars and restaurants liable, either “severally or jointly…for all damages sustained” in the event of an incident, the state can ensure that cooler heads will prevail.
Unfortunately, based on our own experiences, we know that this doesn’t always work. Marc Pera in particular has handled some of the most complex dram shop cases our firm has had. He has seen first-hand the effects a drunk driver has on the lives of the people he or she hurts. He has fought against bars, restaurants and casinos who overserve their patrons – and he has won those cases, every time. And still, no matter how hard he fights, we can’t seem to get people in Ohio to stop overserving drunk patrons.
The cycle needs to end
We can rail against the dangers of drunk driving, and the senseless deaths cause by such selfish acts. We can beg people not to drink and drive, to not take the risk. But if casinos, bars and restaurants continue to serve their patrons even when it is clear that they are intoxicated, or with the knowledge that said bar patrons have been drinking for long enough that there is no way they couldn’t be intoxicated, then the culpability falls on both parties: the selfish driver who grabbed his or her keys, and the bar that served the driver.
Our hearts go out to Scott Petredis’s family, and we hope that, in time, they can find some measure of peace.
Crandall & Pera Law is a premier personal injury law firm serving Ohio and Kentucky. To meet with experienced Ohio dram shop attorney Marc Pera, we invite you to call 877.686.8879, or to fill out our contact form.