Drinking, Law Schools

Is Your Law School A Dram Shop?

Maybe law schools should be more like strip clubs?

There’s been an interesting lawsuit filed in Florida. The father of a woman killed by an allegedly drunk driving law student (who also died in the crash) is suing the driver’s law school for allowing the kid to get liquored up at the school’s “Barrister’s Ball.”

We’ve done a fair amount of stories about drunken shenanigans taking place at these Barrister’s Balls (or law school proms) at law schools across the country. It really makes for a perfect Above the Law story: take booze, add law students, mix with camera phones, and the thing writes itself.

But usually people don’t end up dead. The only thing a Barrister’s Ball is supposed to kill is your Google footprint. Then again, usually there isn’t a (cough, cough) intervening cause between the Ball and the ride home…

The suit has been brought against Florida University, St. Thomas Law. From Courthouse News Service:

Amy Lopez, Germania Huntington and Shawn Huntington burned to death in the crash, as did the drunk law student, Anwar Janania, Lopez’s father claims in Miami-Dade County Court.

He sued St. Thomas University, which threw the bash…

“On March 17, 2012, Janania became visibly and noticeably intoxicated at the St. Thomas Law School Barrister’s ball. Administration and/or representatives of St. Thomas knew or should have known of Mr. Janania’s past issue with the alcohol and his current intoxication yet St. Thomas administration and/or representatives made no effort to prevent Mr. Janania from leaving the ball and driving his vehicle in his drunken state.

I mean, if St. Thomas isn’t going to check if students are visibly intoxicated before they matriculate to law school, why would they check on them as they leave a party? But I digress.

I suppose you can understand when grieving parents look for somebody to blame for their incomparable loss. But I don’t see how an everyday open bar opens you up to liability, especially since St. Thomas is only one of the defendants in this lawsuit. The other defendant is the strip club the guy went to after the Barrister’s Ball.

“Janania then drove his 2010 Volvo to the ‘strip club’ known as Scarlett’s Cabaret in Hallandale, where he entered the club in a drunken state and proceeded to become even more intoxicated.”

Lopez claims Janania was a regular customer at Scarlett’s, where he regularly drank “excessive amounts of alcoholic beverages, which placed Scarlett’s Cabaret staff on notice of Janania’s alcoholism.”

He claims Scarlett’s continued to serve Janania drinks “in the early hours of March 18, 2102,” though he was “visibly and excessively intoxicated.”

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present you Scarlett’s Cabaret, an establishment that will probably be mentioned 1,000 times in St. Thomas’s motion to dismiss. Though, I guess that gets into the question of whether or not it was foreseeable that an allegedly liquored up St. Thomas law student would eventually end up at a strip club.

Maybe next year St. Thomas should just bring the strippers to the Barrister’s Ball? Oh, and have everybody sign up for Uber when they purchase their tickets.

Law School Blamed for Fatal Crash [Courthouse News Service]

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