Oregon Case Law Update: Disturbing Court of Appeals Decision Reversed – Oregon Supreme Court Reaffirms That Restaurants and Taverns Do Have Immunity For “First Party” Claims of Over-Service of Alcohol

Jeff Eberhard Managing Partner

Oregon Case Law Update: Disturbing Court of Appeals Decision Reversed – Oregon Supreme Court Reaffirms That Restaurants and Taverns Do Have Immunity For “First Party” Claims of Over-Service of Alcohol

From the Desk of Jeff Eberhard: In 2017, the Oregon Court of Appeals sent shockwaves through the hospitality industry when it held that a section of Oregon’s liquor liability statute was unconstitutional because it denied a severely injured, intoxicated driver a remedy for her injuries allegedly caused by a social host.  As expected, the Oregon Supreme Court accepted review.  My star senior counsel Jeremy Reeves and I submitted extensive amicus curiae briefing addressing the flaws in the court of appeals’ constitutional analysis and why the entire statute passes constitutional muster.  We expected that the Supreme Court would use the case to settle the issue of whether the court of appeals erred in holding the statute unconstitutional.  Did it? Read on to find out.

Claims Pointer: With potentially dramatic implications for any business that serves or sells alcohol, the Oregon Supreme Court reviewed the court of appeals’ opinion holding a portion of Oregon’s liquor liability statute unconstitutional.  Rather than explicitly addressing the constitutional issue, the Supreme Court simply affirmed the court of appeals’ ruling on other grounds.  Fortunately for the hospitality industry, this Supreme Court decision means that Oregon’s liquor liability statute continues to provide immunity for first-party claims for over-service.  However, this case potentially opens the door to claims against social hosts when operating in a dual function, such as operating as an employer and a social host.

Schutz v. La Costita III, Inc., et al., 364 Or 536 (Mar. 14, 2019).

We discussed the facts underlying this matter in our previous case update, which you can find in our knowledge center here.  In short, Ashley Schutz (“Schutz”) was seriously injured after...

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