Dram Shop And Security Liability

Capehart Scatchard’s Dram Shop and Security Practice Group includes seasoned litigation defense attorneys who focus on protecting restaurant and bar owners/operators and the contract security guard companies often retained to provide site security.  We accomplish this by being the best at what we do and by staying abreast of the latest developments in this practice area, including changes in the law related to contractual defenses such as indemnity, limitations of liability and insurance obligations in the jurisdictions we routinely appear.  We also offer consultative and advisory services to businesses and insurers alike in the areas of risk management, regulatory compliance, and best practices.  Our goal is to prevent or minimize unnecessary litigation by seeking efficient and effective resolutions of our assigned cases while maintaining the highest professional standards in the defense of our liquor liability and security clients and their insurers in the following areas:

  • Restaurant Owners/Operators
  • Outdoor Concert Promoters and Organizers
  • Venue Owners and Social Hosts
  • Security Guard Companies
  • Outdoor and Indoor Sporting Event Promoters
  • Nightclubs and After-Hours Bars
  • Carnival Concession Operators
  • Retail Liquor Store Owners

Our Approach

The business practices of the insured are central to the successful outcome of every liquor liability and/or security lawsuit.  The winning defense of such claims requires the defense attorneys to understand the liquor and/or security business of the insured and have the experience to present the facts of the case in a light most favorable to the insured.  The key advantage of Capehart Scatchard’s Dram Shop and Security Liability Practice Group is our legal experience and ability to present the insured’s internal best practices to the fact finder in order to obtain the best results for the insured and insurer.  Led by our AV rated trial counsel and appellate attorneys, our approach yields a more cost effective and expeditious resolution of the case by minimizing the need for outside experts and consultants.

Our attorneys are trained to evaluate each case assigned to our office for its potential for an early resolution, if possible, to avoid excess litigation costs.  Therefore, we take advantage of frivolous litigation letters, offers in judgment, and motions to dismiss in lieu of Answers to force plaintiff’s counsel to become more reasonable in their expectations early on in the case.

Capehart Scatchard is panel counsel with numerous national insurance carriers, risk retention groups and self insureds.

Sampling of Case Types and Past Results in Dram Shop Cases

Areas of substantive practice include:

  • Claims of Over-service
  • Inadequate and Negligent Security
  • Sporting Events
  • Pro Sports Arenas
  • Assault & Battery
  • Premises Liability
  • Rock Concerts and Performance Venues
  • Nightclub and Disco Security

Here is a sampling of our results in actual cases defended by our Dram Shop and Security Practice Group:

  • Summary Judgment granted in dram shop suit filed in Middlesex County on behalf of insured restaurant on insufficiency of plaintiff’s toxicology expert report.  Plaintiff refused breathalyzer at scene.
  • Early settlement of three (3) separate lawsuits filed by shooting victims injured during a single melee at an after-hours club in Brooklyn for total of $50K on eroding policy.
  • Summary Judgment granted on behalf of insured’s security company in lawsuit filed by victim of a shooting at NYC’s Puerto Rican Day parade festival in 2014.  Assault of plaintiff was deemed by Court to be outside scope of insured’s duty as defined by City’s contract with insured.
  • Favorable settlements achieved on behalf of insurer of Belmar bar in two (2) separate lawsuits filed by pedestrians struck by insured’s bartender’s car on St. Patrick’s Day.  Plaintiffs, represented by Gill & Chamas, alleged that insured’s bartender was drinking while on duty.
  • Motion for summary judgment granted on behalf of Atlantic City casino and nightclub operator in case filed by patron alleging serious injuries arising out of alleged assault by two (2) Atlantic City police officers working in club at time.
  • Nuisance value settlement in death case involving patron who was refused service by insured, a Philadelphia after-hours club, and later found in Schuylkill River.  Second bar where decedent drank paid $500K settlement to prominent Philadelphia plaintiff’s law firm.
  • Nuisance value settlements achieved in Essex County, N.J. in double assault case.  Plaintiffs alleged they were assaulted by club bouncers and Newark police officers.  Injuries included a broken jaw, pepper spray allergic reactions, and concussion.  Insured out of business, no witnesses or records, and difficult adversary.

Our People

Capehart Scatchard has created the right mix of highly experienced attorneys and paralegals who have established outstanding track records during their long careers with us. Our attorneys are trained to evaluate each case assigned to our office for its potential for an early resolution, if possible, to avoid excess litigation costs.  Although we are attorneys first, we are sensitive to the impact that even a frivolous lawsuit poses to your insureds and their businesses.  Therefore, we take advantage of frivolous litigation letters, offers in judgment, and motions to dismiss in lieu of Answers to force plaintiff’s counsel to become reasonable early and often.

Capehart Scatchard is a diversified general practice law firm of 98 attorneys practicing in seven (7) offices throughout New Jersey, New York, Delaware, and Philadelphia.  As one of the oldest law firms and businesses in the tri-state area, we understand the need to preserve your insureds’ image in the business community and we partner with your insureds and the claims professionals to maintain control and anticipate winning strategies particularly in high profile cases.

The Capehart Scatchard’s Dram Shop and Security Liability Practice Group includes:

  • Christopher J. Hoare, Esq.- Department Chairman
  • Kurt E. Kramer, Esq.
  • Scott M. Russ, Esq.
  • Laura M. Danks, Esq.
  • Gina M. Zippilli, Esq.
  • Stephen J. Alexander, Esq.
  • Neil Hlawatsch, Esq.

Please check our website for a current and complete description of all Capehart Scatchard practice areas and specialties along with biographies of the attorneys individual practice areas.