Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Ruling says gas stations liable
Knoxville News Sentinel ^ | 8/22/5 | JAMIE SATTERFIELD

Posted on 08/22/2005 12:29:51 PM PDT by SmithL

Selling gas to a drunk could make store owners legally responsible for injuries suffered if the intoxicated motorist causes a crash, the state Supreme Court has ruled.

The groundbreaking ruling comes in a Knoxville lawsuit that sought to extend the state's negligence laws, long applied to those who hawk alcohol to drunks, to those who provide them gas.

In the case, Gary L. West and Michell B. Richardson suffered severe injuries in July 2000 when their vehicle was struck head-on by drunk driver Brian Lee Tarver, 49, in a crash on Rutledge Pike.

Tarver later pleaded guilty to charges including vehicular assault and second-offense driving under the influence.

Attorneys Gregory F. Coleman and Michael A. Myers later filed a lawsuit in Knox County Circuit Court, alleging that Tarver's car never would have made it to its tragic collision with West and Richardson but for the $3 worth of gas he bought at an Exxon station on Rutledge Pike just before the crash.

More importantly, the attorneys alleged, employees at the Exxon, owned by East Tennessee Pioneer Oil Co., knew Tarver was drunk - so drunk that a cashier refused to sell him beer.

The question for the state's high court was whether Pioneer could be held liable for the crash. Could or should its employees have foreseen the risk of a crash and, if so, was there something they could have done to try to prevent it?

While the high court made clear that the store's employees were not required to take affirmative action to stop Tarver from driving, they still could have refused to sell him gas, the court ruled.

"A safer alternative was readily available and easily feasible - simply refusing to sell gasoline to an obviously intoxicated driver," the court ruled in an opinion delivered by Justice William M. Barker.

According to court records, the cashier was facing a long line of customers when Tarver "pushed his way to the front of the line and asked the clerk if she would 'go get (him) some beer.' "

He reeked of alcohol and staggered when he walked, court records stated. Believing Tarver was drunk, the cashier declined to sell him beer, according to court records.

"Tarver began cursing loudly, talking to (the cashier) in a threatening manner," Barker wrote in the opinion.

"Tarver then managed to pull three crumpled one dollar bills out of his pocket and laid them on the counter," Barker wrote. "He told (the clerk), 'We need gas' and then turned to leave."

Once at the gas pumps, Tarver was too drunk to figure out how to turn the device on, the opinion stated. Two off-duty employees then helped him turn on the pump, according to the opinion. They later watched as Tarver got behind the wheel and drove into the oncoming lane of traffic on Rutledge Pike, the opinion stated.

A University of Tennessee professor later determined that Tarver's vehicle would have run out of gas before encountering West and Richardson if he had not been able to buy more fuel.

Knox County Circuit Court Judge Harold Wimberly had dismissed the lawsuit by West and Richardson, ruling that state law did not allow a claim of negligence against Pioneer for injuries Tarver caused.

The case heads back to his court for trial, where a jury must decide if blame should be placed on Pioneer and its employees. The state Supreme Court ruling only allows the case to proceed. The justices did not rule on whether Pioneer was negligent.

"We're pleased," Coleman said. "Now we can go forward with the trial itself."


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Constitution/Conservatism; Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Government; News/Current Events; US: Tennessee
KEYWORDS: attacklawyer; gassed; scotus; tankedup; totalbullsht
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-100101-116 next last

1 posted on 08/22/2005 12:29:53 PM PDT by SmithL
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: SmithL

It's still ok to sell it to a pyro, though...right?


2 posted on 08/22/2005 12:31:53 PM PDT by Puppage (You may disagree with what I have to say, but I shall defend to your death my right to say it.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SmithL

IT'S A MADHOUSE!!!!


3 posted on 08/22/2005 12:33:12 PM PDT by phugg
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SmithL
What about "Pay at the pump"?

This ruling makes no sense.

4 posted on 08/22/2005 12:33:25 PM PDT by SolidRedState (E Pluribus Funk --- (Latin taglines are sooooo cool! Don't ya think?))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SmithL

There goes the "pay-at-the-pump" option if the idiot court holds the station owner responsible; won't do much for pump first-pay later, either.


5 posted on 08/22/2005 12:34:05 PM PDT by neksterbor
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SmithL

This is the epitome of STUPID!


What the HELL ever happened to personal responsibility?


6 posted on 08/22/2005 12:34:31 PM PDT by trubluolyguy (How does He know what you're gonna do? He had a great view from YOUR cross.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SmithL

Why not shoot the idiot who sold him the car? Or the poltroon who gave birth to him? {/sarcasm}


7 posted on 08/22/2005 12:34:33 PM PDT by aQ_code_initiate
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SolidRedState

WHat if he had already pumped the gas and went inside? Would they send him out with a can and a tube to syphon it out?


8 posted on 08/22/2005 12:34:47 PM PDT by Brian328i
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: SmithL

what is the going rate for a gas station attendant with a medical degree?


9 posted on 08/22/2005 12:35:10 PM PDT by sure_fine (*not one to over kill the thought process*)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SolidRedState

The ruling allows the jury to decide if I read the article correctly.


10 posted on 08/22/2005 12:35:28 PM PDT by neksterbor
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: SmithL
 
"

Oh for crying out loud!

!

 

11 posted on 08/22/2005 12:35:43 PM PDT by HawaiianGecko (Liberals believe common sense facts are open to debate!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SmithL

I have a much better idea!

All lawyers are to be held 100% responsible for any murder, robbery, rape, etc committed by a felon who was released through their sleazy lies.

Lawyers will received the maximum penalty for whatever crime is commited by their actions.
------
------
If the devil is the living flesh of evil, then here is who I think he is. Far from appearing as a hideous demon, he is the average-looking person who walks into a room and shakes your hand with a smile. By the time he leaves, the standards of decency of everyone within that room have been lowered ever so slightly. --- A lawyer come to mind.


12 posted on 08/22/2005 12:36:41 PM PDT by hombre_sincero
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: neksterbor

If I'm walking down the street and a drunk pulls over and asks me for directions, am I liable if I tell the route, and then an accident occurs along that route?


13 posted on 08/22/2005 12:37:06 PM PDT by C210N (Today is a gift, that's why it is called the present)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: SmithL


Supreme court has gone stark raving mad, my God, it's never the drunk's fault, heaven forbid he/she be responsible for his/her actions, blame everyone else, I can't stand it anymore, there has got to be another planet somewhere where sanity prevails.


14 posted on 08/22/2005 12:37:50 PM PDT by rockabyebaby (What do you like best about your life?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: trubluolyguy

There is no such thing. The lawyers took that away long ago. It's now everybody's fault. They are a victim of society.


15 posted on 08/22/2005 12:38:44 PM PDT by concordKIWI
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: SmithL
Selling gas to a drunk could make store owners legally responsible for injuries suffered if the intoxicated motorist causes a crash, the state Supreme Court has ruled.

Put a couple of high payout lawsuits behiind this, and all the 'pay at the pump' units will have to be replaced. Self-service will exist no more.

Gas prices aren't exactly going to go down under that scenario.

16 posted on 08/22/2005 12:38:58 PM PDT by MEGoody (Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SmithL
The case heads back to his court for trial, where a jury must decide if blame should be placed on Pioneer and its employees. The state Supreme Court ruling only allows the case to proceed. The justices did not rule on whether Pioneer was negligent.

Okay, not as bad as the title suggests. The court here was simply ruling whether negligence could be possible.

Reading the facts of the case, it seems like it's within the realm of possibility that what happened here was negligence. Especially the part about off-duty station employees helping this guy pump his gas.

Selling this guy gas is in the same ballpark as handing a visibly intoxicated man a firearm.

17 posted on 08/22/2005 12:39:48 PM PDT by Modernman ("A conservative government is an organized hypocrisy." -Disraeli)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: aQ_code_initiate
Why not shoot the idiot that sold him the car? Or the poltroon who gave birth to him?

Oh, don't worry, I'm sure it's just a matter of time!

18 posted on 08/22/2005 12:39:51 PM PDT by rockabyebaby (What do you like best about your life?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: aQ_code_initiate
 

"poltroon"

Now there's a word I had to look up.

 

!

 

19 posted on 08/22/2005 12:40:48 PM PDT by HawaiianGecko (Liberals believe common sense facts are open to debate!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: SmithL
Sue, sue, sue!!!!

For the love of God, everyone ought to be able to sue someone.

They also oughta be able to sue the car manufacturer, the people who built the car, the company who manufactures the liquor they drank, the bartender/club owner/liquor store clerk/liquor store owner, and anyone else the victims family can squeeze money out of.

BTW, in this day and age of pay at the pump, how is a gas station supposed to stop the sale of gas to someone they never even see?

*sigh*

20 posted on 08/22/2005 12:41:29 PM PDT by teenyelliott (Soylent green should be made outta liberals...)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: neksterbor

Actually, I saw a drunk guy at a service station once and took his keys. There is no way I would sit idly by and watch a clearly drunk person drive away if I had the power to easily stop him.

This sort of reminds me of what happened in the movie Spiderman when he let the theif go. He paid later, but it could have been someone else just as easily.


21 posted on 08/22/2005 12:41:40 PM PDT by RobRoy (Child support and maintenance (alimony) are what we used to call indentured slavery)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: SmithL
what a deal, imagine this; just leave the bar and hit the first station to get (even a dollar) gas... its no longer your fault for driving DUI

SHWEEEEEEEEET

sarcasim

22 posted on 08/22/2005 12:41:44 PM PDT by sure_fine (*not one to over kill the thought process*)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SmithL

I guess car manufacturers should be liable for selling products they know will be used by drunks??


23 posted on 08/22/2005 12:41:52 PM PDT by CodeToad
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SmithL
I think the Supreme Court should just make one final ruling then close up shop for good

-- No matter what happens, it's the other guys fault.

-- Court's adjourned!!

24 posted on 08/22/2005 12:42:27 PM PDT by ladtx ( "Remember your regiment and follow your officers." Captain Charles May, 2d Dragoons, 9 May 1846)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SmithL

Well... there goes Pay at the Pump... see ya inside waiting at the counter folks.


25 posted on 08/22/2005 12:42:34 PM PDT by HamiltonJay
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: neksterbor
The ruling allows the jury to decide if I read the article correctly

Doesn't matter. It's still a stupid ruling. In these days with high gas prices & hurrying to get where we're going we don't need another hitch in the gas-getting process.

26 posted on 08/22/2005 12:42:36 PM PDT by madison10
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: C210N
If I'm walking down the street and a drunk pulls over and asks me for directions, am I liable if I tell the route, and then an accident occurs along that route?

Probably not. However, if you discover a drunk man trying to get into his car but having no luck with the keys, you might well be liable if you help him get in and turn on the engine.

27 posted on 08/22/2005 12:42:50 PM PDT by Modernman ("A conservative government is an organized hypocrisy." -Disraeli)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: trubluolyguy

Bingo! A big thumbs-up for personal responsiblity, and a great big raspberry for holding everone else responsible.


28 posted on 08/22/2005 12:43:03 PM PDT by DoughtyOne (US socialist liberalism would be dead without the help of politicians who claim to be conservative.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: neksterbor
The ruling allows the jury to decide if I read the article correctly.

Yes, exactly. But it should have been thrown out completely.

Had they refused to give him gas, I am sure he could have come up with some kind of suit against them.

Besides, I am a firm beliver in personal responsibility. This idea of blaming some one else is B.S.

The guy must not have insurance to go after so they find the deepest pockets they can.

I feel for the victims, but let's put the responsibility where it should.

29 posted on 08/22/2005 12:43:37 PM PDT by SolidRedState (E Pluribus Funk --- (Latin taglines are sooooo cool! Don't ya think?))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: SmithL

WTF? Are we to assume that all drunks drift into the gas stations on fumes, and if they're denied gasoline they have to stay put? Refusing to sell a drunk gas will accomplish nothing.


30 posted on 08/22/2005 12:43:59 PM PDT by Jaysun (Democrats: We must become more effective at fooling people.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SolidRedState
What about "Pay at the pump"?

Sure it does. Gas stations should have breathalizers at the pump. I was saying that as a joke, but when I have to blow in one to pump my gas next year it won't be funny.

31 posted on 08/22/2005 12:44:03 PM PDT by Always Right
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: sure_fine
what a deal, imagine this; just leave the bar and hit the first station to get (even a dollar) gas... its no longer your fault for driving DUI

I know you're being sarcastic, but that's not how it works. You would still be on the hook for the DUI and for any injuries you caused, even if someone else is also liable.

32 posted on 08/22/2005 12:44:43 PM PDT by Modernman ("A conservative government is an organized hypocrisy." -Disraeli)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies]

To: SmithL

It's just an extension of "it's the gun's fault."

No responsibilities no rights -- the liberals end game.


33 posted on 08/22/2005 12:45:59 PM PDT by Tarpon
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SolidRedState
This ruling makes no sense.

Drunk driver - no deep pockets. Gas station - deep pockets.

34 posted on 08/22/2005 12:46:34 PM PDT by dirtboy (Drool overflowed my buffer...)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: SmithL

This ranks right up there with the SCOTUS Eminent Domain ruling.


35 posted on 08/22/2005 12:47:48 PM PDT by Yo-Yo
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SmithL

Well, hell, if they would have sold him the beer, he may have become so drunk he would have passed out...how far do we want to take bystander liability, here?


36 posted on 08/22/2005 12:48:07 PM PDT by atomicpossum (Replies should be as pedantic as possible. I love that so much.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Jaysun

"Are we to assume that all drunks drift into the gas stations on fumes"

Yeah. I'd like to know how much gas he REALLY had in that car before he 'filled' up with 3 DOLLARS!

My car will run on fumes for miles! So I don't think the 3 buc ks made one bit of difference.


37 posted on 08/22/2005 12:48:32 PM PDT by Bigh4u2 (Denial is the first requirement to be a liberal)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 30 | View Replies]

To: hombre_sincero
All lawyers are to be held 100% responsible for any murder, robbery, rape, etc committed by a felon who was released through their sleazy lies.

Now THERE'S a good idea!

38 posted on 08/22/2005 12:50:46 PM PDT by American Quilter
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: SmithL

I think I will invent a gas pump with a built in self cleaning breathalyser. We already need one with smelling salts in it for when we see the price.


39 posted on 08/22/2005 12:51:37 PM PDT by sgtbono2002
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SolidRedState
What about "Pay at the pump"?

I guess they'll next install breathalyser gadgets that you need to blow into before the pump will operate.

40 posted on 08/22/2005 12:53:08 PM PDT by ElkGroveDan (I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: SolidRedState

...What about "Pay at the pump"?...

Gas stations will have to install breathalizer devices on every pump. Blow, Pump, and Pay. Of course they can just add the cost to the gasoline, or, lobby Congress to foot the bill, probably the latter since it's such a "feel good" measure the Nanny government would jump all over it.

I hate this liability crap, because those who are really not liable always end up footing the bill for those who really are liable.

Bottom line, if you've got something to sue for, you are liable. It's SOP of the court system, and it is killing this country.


41 posted on 08/22/2005 12:54:53 PM PDT by planekT (No fence, no vote.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: SmithL
Does Tennessee have no fault insurance?
42 posted on 08/22/2005 12:57:44 PM PDT by Reaganghost (Our freedoms will never be safe as long as a single Democrat holds elected public office.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Bigh4u2
My car will run on fumes for miles!

Not mine. First time it coughs it dies and that's it right there. My old VW Bug, though, if it started missing you could pick up the front end and jiggle it around and enough gas would get into the fuel line to get to the next gas station. I admit it took two to pick up the front of the vehicle.

43 posted on 08/22/2005 12:57:59 PM PDT by RightWhale (Withdraw from the 1967 UN Outer Space Treaty and open the Land Office)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 37 | View Replies]

To: planekT

"...Blow, Pump, and Pay. Of course they can just add the cost to the gasoline..."



If I could tell you the restraint I'm using right now... : )


44 posted on 08/22/2005 12:59:05 PM PDT by Hand em their arse
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 41 | View Replies]

To: RightWhale

Well. When I say 'fumes' I just mean the gas gauge reads empty and the tank has a hollow sound when I rap on it to see If I can make it to the next station.

I've done it a few times and the nearest gas station is about 4 miles away.


45 posted on 08/22/2005 1:03:27 PM PDT by Bigh4u2 (Denial is the first requirement to be a liberal)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 43 | View Replies]

To: Modernman
Selling this guy gas is in the same ballpark as handing a visibly intoxicated man a firearm.

Kind of but not really. The car most likely had gas already in the tank and the drunk guy was just adding to it.

This also raises the problem of turning gas station attendants into DUI checkpoint officers. What if a white clerk refuses to sell gasoline to a black or mexican patron and then can't prove that the guy was actually drunk? The station will probably be charged with violating the guy's civil rights and be sued by those who couldn't obtain fuel as well.

Also, what if a person has a speech impediment or just an odd way of carrying himself and the clerk deems him intoxicated and won't sell him gas? If the guy later gets into an accident going to another station or something bad happens because he can't get fuel, the lawyers will go after the station again.

This type of ruling puts ordinary people just trying to make a living selling stuff into a very difficult situation. With MADD emotionally blackmailing state legislators to lower the intoxication threshold to .08 and even .04, a normal person just working at a convenience store won't be able to determine who to sell fuel to.

46 posted on 08/22/2005 1:05:36 PM PDT by JeffAtlanta
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies]

To: All

Perhaps part of tort reform should be common sense PROXIMATE CAUSE REFORM!

This is absurd because the proximate cause was not the gasoline, it was the DRUNK! Public policy puts drunk drivers on strict liability.

Juries are just plain STUPID.


47 posted on 08/22/2005 1:07:37 PM PDT by longtermmemmory (VOTE!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SmithL

We need a Bill of Responsibilities to accompany the Bill of Rights.


48 posted on 08/22/2005 1:09:25 PM PDT by DTogo (U.S. out of the U.N. & U.N out of the U.S.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SmithL; All
Am I thre only one that read this part?:

According to court records,: He reeked of alcohol and staggered when he walked, court records stated. Believing Tarver was drunk, the cashier declined to sell him beer, according to court records.

Once at the gas pumps, Tarver was too drunk to figure out how to turn the device on, the opinion stated. Two off-duty employees then helped him turn on the pump, according to the opinion.

They later watched as Tarver got behind the wheel and drove into the oncoming lane of traffic on Rutledge Pike, the opinion stated

He was too drunk to be sold beer, yet they helped him put gas in his car? Sounds like a reasonable decision to me.

49 posted on 08/22/2005 1:11:01 PM PDT by Michael.SF. ('That was the gift the president gave us, the gift of happiness, of being together,' Cindy Sheehan")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SmithL
Now gas station attendants are required to be qualified DUI investigators to perform their duties and keep their employer from getting sued. Bartenders and cocktail waitresses have apparently been upped to DUI enforcement already, so now the gas station attendants join this group. Nice.

And lawyers wonder why they are sooooo despised...

50 posted on 08/22/2005 1:12:35 PM PDT by TChris ("You tweachewous miscweant!" - Elmer Fudd)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]


Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-100101-116 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson