Observation Paper Essay
The court case I observed was the 2008 2L Moot Court Tournament at the Liberty University School of Law, Deborah White vs. Patrick Gibbs and O’Malley’s Tavern. The purpose of this court case was to determine whether or not it should be taken into a motion of summary judgement. The plaintiff in the case was Deborah White. White was represented by Amanda Babbitt and Jackson Walsh. The defendants in this case are Patrick Gibbs; and O’Malley’s Tavern. The representatives of the defendants were Benjamin Walton and Jordan Van Meter.
Before summarizing the arguments of the plaintiff and the defendant, there will be a short summarization of the incident. Mr. and Mrs. White entered O’Malley’s Tavern around 7:00 pm. Upon their arrival they were greeted by Edward Hard, Mrs. White’s previous fiance. Hard congratulated the White’s on their recent marriage and continued to sit back down at his bar stool. Hard drank around eleven drinks that night within a two hour period. Within a thirty minute period of those two hours he had consumed four to six shots of liquor. The bartender did not see any physical signs of intoxication until after Hard had already consumed the last drink.
According to the plaintiff and other witnesses at the bar, when the bartender stepped out of the room Hard knocked his stool over and fell to the ground. Before the bartender returned Hard was already up and looked fine. As the Whites were leaving Hard confronted them and said “She should be my wife. ” and threw a punch. Hard missed and stumbled to the ground. Hard also said, “This is not over yet. ” (Gumpresht, 3) As the Whites drove off Hard followed in pursuit. Hard hit a number of cars pulling out of the parking lot and proceeded by swerving down the road after them, taking out a mailbox a long the way.
White then called 911 and in a worried tone alerted them that Hard was following. Mr. White took a left turn and that is when Hard crashed into the side of the vehicle killing Mr. White and also injuring Mrs. White. Upon further investigation it was reveled that Hard’s Blood Alcohol Level was . 20. The legal driving limit in Indiana is . 08. Hard was over twice the legal limit. The main argument that the defendants made was that the actual knowledge of visible intoxication and proximate causation are required. Mr. Walton stated that the evidence did not show that Mr.
Hard engaging in any activities that would display intoxication. Hard did show signs of increased speech, however, this is not considered a display of intoxication. Since Hard did not show signs of intoxication in the presence of the bartender or owner until after he was finished drinking, the bartender and owner are not liable. Mr. Van Meter stated that since Mr. Hard’s intoxication was not the proximate cause of the injury summary judgment is required as a matter of law. In general proximate cause is when an event is greatly related to a legally recognizable injury. Mr.
Van Meter continued by stating that the plaintiff was a victim of a crime, not negligence caused by the defendants. Hard intended to hurt Mr. White and that is what he did. It did not occur due to negligence of the defendant and drunk driving, but because Hard intended to hurt White no matter what. According to the defendants this proves the defendants are not liable for responsibility and entitled to summary judgment. The main argument by the Plaintiffs, Amanda Babbitt and Jackson Walsh, is that actual knowledge of visible intoxication and proximate causation have been proven by the evidence.
Mr. Walsh gave two reasons to deny the summary judgment. The first reason was that a jury could assume from the evidence and circumstances of the case more than one conclusion for the case which deems summary judgment as inappropriate. Second, in this case the jury could also assume that the bartender had actual knowledge of the visible intoxication of Hard before his last drink. It was noted that Hard consumed eleven drinks, four to six of them being within a half hour. The bartender should have enough evidence to know that Hard was intoxicated and should have stopped serving.
Ms. Babbitt adds that a jury could make reasonable inferences on behalf of the plaintiff which would make a summary judgement inappropriate. In addition, the death of Mr. White and Mrs. White’s injuries was a foreseeable consequence of a visible intoxication of Hard. Lastly, a criminal act can be an intervening act that does not break the chain of causation because the act is reasonably foreseeable. According to the plaintiff a summary judgement should be denied for the defendants. Both the arguments by the plaintiff and defendants were very clear and concise.
It was hard to pick a side, however, I would decide to grant summary judgment. I believe that the defendants presented a stronger argument. Hard was a heavy drinker and although his BAL was high, the proximate cause was his anger at Mr. Brown for marrying the woman he was in love . Since proximate cause is an act that sets in motion a chain of events that eventually results in an injury, and that an injury was reasonably foreseeable as result of the original act; the direct cause of the wreck was the criminal act of wanting to harm Mr. White. Hard’s anger and intent to harm Mr.
White was the contributing proximate cause of Mr. White’s death, his intoxication may have been a contributing factor, but not the proximate cause. Also, according to the Indiana Dram Shop Act actual knowledge of visible intoxication is required for the bartender or owner to be liable. A bartender, under this Act, is not liable unless he or she is aware that the customer is intoxicated while serving an alcoholic drink. There was no evidence presented that showed knowledge was present during the serving of alcohol only after the last drink was furnished.
Hard did stumble and fall a couple times, however, the bartender was not present at the time of these occurrences and was unable to see any type of intoxication. Because of this evidence, or lack of evidence, this clears the defendants from liability. The Plaintiff’s arguments on the basis that it should be presumed that the bartender had known Mr. Hard was intoxicated does not override the requirement of actual knowledge of visible intoxication. It can be inferred that since Mr. Hard spent most of the night sitting on a bar stool that visible intoxication would be very difficult to witness. There was also an overwhelming evidence that Mr. Hard had held onto emotions concerning Mrs. White. In doing so, Mr. Hard’s anger towards Mr. White was the cause of him continuing the criminal act of assault from the time of attempting to punch Mr. White through to crashing his vehicle into the White’s car, ultimately killing Mr. White. Lastly, there are no laws in Indiana that hold the bartender liable if Mr. Hard’s attempts drive a vehicle while intoxicated. It is ultimately up the law enforcement to protect the innocent civilians and enforce the law. With the Biblical worldview, throughout the Bible we see the principle of someone acting on behalf of another person.
This is what agency is all about. As an example, when Abraham sends his servant to go find a bride for Isaac. The servant was acting on behalf of Abraham in finding a suitable bride for Abrahams’ son Isaac. “Someone acting for another is a common Biblical theme, and it is what agency is all about. ” (Chrisman, 2011). In the New Testament there is not much on changing governments as much as there is on changing people and letting the people change the governments. “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. ” (Colossians 3:15-17, King James Version) Man’s law is not perfect and never will be. Although Man’s law is not as good a God’s law we still need man’s law in place. We are in a country with many different cultural and religious backgrounds which requires government laws to be in place.
We have to maintain measures and balances that work for the people all together. As a Christian I believe some of man’s laws are lacking and are in need of a biblical basis. This is why it is up to us as Christians to work together and help the government improve the law system.
Chrisman, Esq. , R (2011). Presentation: Understanding Agency and Employment Relationships [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from Liberty University Blackboard website Gumpresht, M. E. (2008, March 12). Memorandum in Opposition to the Motion for Summary Judgement. Civil Action No. 82A04-8876-CV-285 Holy Bible: King James Version.