Hall, the Second District affirmed a summary judgment entered in favor of the
defendant beach resort, finding that the defendant owed no duty of care
to the plaintiff. The plaintiff had suffered serious injuries after being
struck by a speeding car driven by Joshua West. West and several friends
visited the defendant beach club earlier on the day of the accident. West
was intoxicated throughout his time at the beach resort. The resort's
security personnel told West to leave the premises, and escorted him and
his friends to their car. West got behind the wheel and drove off. Two
hours later, and thirteen miles away, West struck the plaintiff. West's
blood alcohol level was .188. The Second District affirmed the summary
judgment in favor of the beach resort because (1) Fla. Stat. 768.125 bars
the plaintiff's theory of liability, (2)
Bardy v. Walt Disney World Co. was found not to be controlling, and (3) the beach resort had no general
duty to prevent West from driving away.
The Second District initially ruled that it must affirm based on Fla. Stat.
768.125 alone. Fla. Stat. 768.125 provides that a "person who sells
or furnishes alcoholic beverages to a person of lawful drinking age shall
not thereby become liable for injury or damage caused by or resulting
from the intoxication of such person," except where the person willfully
and unlawfully sells or furnishes alcoholic beverages to someone underage
or where the person knowingly serves a person habitually addicted to alcohol.
The court noted that West was of age and no evidence was presented that
the resort knew whether West was habitually addicted to alcohol. Thus,
no statutory exception applied. The plaintiff argued his claims are not
related to the sale of alcohol, and that the resort was negligent in allowing
West to drive away while intoxicated. The Second District found the argument
"parses the statute too finely." The court noted that the statute
excuses the resort's liability for injury or damage "caused by
or resulting from the intoxication" of the person served. The court
stated that the legislature has set the boundaries of the duty owed to
The Second District next addressed the argument that
Bardy creates another exception. In
Bardy, the plaintiff, an employee of Walt Disney World, was injured in an auto
accident while intoxicated after one of his employer's security guards
ordered him to leave the premises under threat of arrest, despite Bardy's
protests that he was too drunk to drive. The Fifth District in
Bardy ruled that Disney had a duty to refrain from ordering its employee to leave
its premises unless it reasonably believed that the employee could drive
away safely. The Second District was unwilling to further expand or limit
the scope of Fla. Stat. 768.125, and found that the facts in
Bardy were meaningfully different.
Lastly, the Second District found that Florida law imposes no duty on a
business owner to ensure the safety of an intoxicated person who is about
to leave the premises. And, "that business has no legal duty to control
the conduct of a third person to prevent that person from harming others."
The Second District therefore affirmed the summary judgment.