Dram Shop Law in South Carolina

Although South Carolina recognizes dram shop claims, the state does not have a specific dram shop statute. Instead, dram shop claims have been authorized via decisions handed down by the South Carolina Supreme Court over the years.

In a case called Jamison v. The Pantry, Inc., a 19-year-old driver purchased a case of beer from The Pantry, a convenience store. Less than an hour later, the driver collided with a car carrying the plaintiff (Jamison) and several other people, causing death and serious injuries. The driver was found to have a blood alcohol level of 0.135, which is well over the legal limit for South Carolina.

The court decided that Jamison and the injured passengers could bring a claim against The Pantry based on its selling alcohol to a 19-year-old driver, and the foreseeability of the accident. The court said, "It was reasonably foreseeable that a nineteen-year-old who was sold a case of beer by a convenience store in violation of statutes would consume a portion of the beer, would become intoxicated, would drive an automobile, would collide with another vehicle, and would injure or kill someone." Because this harm was "reasonably foreseeable" by The Pantry, the court held that The Pantry could be found liable for the injuries suffered by Jamison and the other passengers.

In Steele v. Rogers, the court clarified its holding in Jamison by stating that merely selling alcohol to a minor was not enough to support a dram shop claim if the minor then injured someone else. Instead, there had to be evidence that the person who caused the injuries was intoxicated by the alcohol at the time the accident occurred.

In Hartfield v. The Getaway Lounge and Grill, Inc., the South Carolina Supreme Court held that a bar that violated the state law against serving alcohol to a "visibly intoxicated" adult could also be held liable if that adult then injured someone else.

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