- Premises Liability Expanded For Employees Drinking After Work.
In the case of Kai-Yen Cheng vs. OTB Mission Valley Restaurant, et al., the San Diego Superior Court found a San Diego restaurant chain (On The Boarder Mexican Grill and Cantina) liable last Friday for an employees allegedly drunken car collision though both the drinking and the accident took place after his shift ended. The employee, who admitted to having several drinks at the Mexican restaurant where he works after clocking out, hit a skateboarder who was skateboarding in the bicycle lane near San Diego State University.
The court held that an off duty employee who is drinking at a licensed establishment subjected his employer to liability. The plaintiff received an award of 1.5 million dollars for a fractured ankle and torn knee ligaments and various other cuts.
In this case, although it was factually disputed that the employee was drunk or had more than two drinks after work at his job, plaintiff’s attorney argued to the jury that employees often stayed after-hours for drinks and the employer benefitted by profiting from the alcohol sales. Since the employer did not limit or impose the number of drinks the employee can have after work nor conduct any test to see if he was intoxicated the employer should be held liable.
This decision follows the recent Court of Appeal decision, Purton vs. Marriott International, Inc. 218 Cal App. 4th 499. In Purton, the employee stayed after hours for a social activity at the hotel he worked and got drunk. It was a Marriott company holiday party. The employee arrived home after the party and then went back out 20 minutes later and fatally struck another driver. Despite the fact that he was neither driving to nor from the work event, the driver was deemed to be acting within the scope of employment when negligently driving thus establishing liability for Marriott when the foreseeable collision later occurred.
It makes one rethink any employer sponsored parties in which employees are allowed to drink alcohol and then drive. Unfortunately, this is what things have come to with the expansion of premises liability to the employer/owner. What’s next? Serving wine and/or alcohol at an open house or company sponsored event could lead the agent/broker/company to liability if someone who had a few drinks at the event causes injuries to a third party?
About the Author
Scott Souders is a real estate attorney who has practiced real estate law in excess of 42 years in Southern California. The Real Estate Law Update cites cases or statutes which are summarized and should not be relied upon without fully reading the cases or statute in the advance sheets and shepardizing the same and consulting with your own attorney.