It is a well established principle of Iowa’s Dram Shop Act that in order to be liable to a third party for damages, an establishment must have “sold and served” an alcoholic beverage to a person that it knew or should have known would become intoxicated.  See Iowa Code 123.92 (2020).

The interpretation of this “sold and served” requirement and whether it could be extended to a tavern who served several pitchers of alcohol to a group of patrons recently came before the Iowa District Court in and for Scott County.

Partner Member, Amanda Richards, represented a local bar who had served a 21 pitchers of beer for $21.00 deal to a group celebrating a 21st birthday.  One of the individuals that was part of the group allegedly became intoxicated and an altercation occurred outside the bar.  The Plaintiff sued the bar asserting that it sold and served alcohol to the individual involved in the altercation.

Ms. Richards argued for that although the bar had sold the pitcher special to a patron who in turn shared the deal with the alleged intoxicated person involved in the altercation, the bar neither sold nor served alcohol directly to the alleged intoxicated person a strict requirement of the statute.  The Iowa District Court of Scott County agreed finding that the undisputed facts established that although the alleged intoxicated person may have consumed beer from pitchers purchased by other people within the bar, there was no evidence outside of unsupported speculation that the alleged intoxicated person was ever directly served by the bar.  The Costatute may not be extended to scenarios in which a patron received alcohol from a vendor in a second-hand fashion, granting judgment in favor of the bar.

The complete ruling may be read here.