⛱ Martell's Tiki bar is the subject of a lawsuit over-serving alcohol

🍺 A woman alleges she was visibly drunk, but served anyway

🍺 This case is a test of New Jersey's so-called 'dram shop rules'

A woman who claims she was overserved by bartenders at popular New Jersey boardwalk bar has filed a lawsuit.

Westfield resident Mary Santoro claims in the suit that she was visibly drunk at Martell's Tiki Bar on July 14, 2022, but staff kept feeding her drinks. She further alleges that as a result of her intoxication, she fell and injured herself.

Details of the suit were first reported by NJ Advance Media.

Court papers do not say where or how Santoro fell, but her lawyer wrote in the lawsuit that the Point Pleasant Beach bar allowed a "dangerous condition" to exist.

A lawyer for Martell's responded in court filings that Santoro's alleged injuries were caused by her own negligence.

The suit names Martell's Tiki Bar and its bartenders as liable parties.

A test of New Jersey's 'Dram Shop' rules

The lawsuit was brought under what is known as a dram shop rule.

A 'dram shop' is any establishment that serves alcohol, like bars and restaurants. It applies potential civil liability to those businesses for harmful acts caused by their intoxicated customers who were negligently served too much alcohol.

Typical cases involve a bartender serving a visibly intoxicated person who later is involved in a motor vehicle accident, causing harm to him/herself or another person.

However, there are so-called 'first party dram shop' cases where the allegation involves a cause of action against the establishment for injuries the individual sustained as a result of his/her own intoxication.

Cases are difficult to prove

Legal experts agree dram shop cases can be difficult to prove, especially if they are first-party cases.

An establishment's defense is almost always centered on claims that different people have different alcohol tolerances and behaviors. Juries have also frequently found that the individual who claims harm should be responsible for their own actions.

These cases are often settled out of court.

Martell's Tiki Bar has been sued before

Two lawsuits connected to a fatal 2013 DWI crash. Both alleged bartenders overserved a patron who was visibly drunk.

Both cases were settled out of court and Martell's did not admit wrongdoing.

The state, however, did its own investigation and found Martell's bartenders did overserve the woman who was driving while intoxicated and imposed a fine and liquor license suspension.

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