2014

Lewis Wagner, LLP’s client is an employer who had a holiday luncheon for its employees at a restaurant which began at 1:00 p.m.  One of the client’s employees had prior instances of incidents after the consumption of alcohol.  At the holiday party, the restaurant served two drinks to the employee which were paid for by the employer.  The party ended at around 3:00 p.m.
 
The employee left the restaurant and went to his home.  Later, the employee drove to a nearby liquor store and purchased beer and tequila.  He spent two hours consuming the alcohol that he had recently purchased.  At around 8:30 p.m., almost five and a half hours after he left the holiday party, he was involved in an automobile accident with the plaintiffs while driving his own vehicle on personal activities.
 
The plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against the employer and others alleging negligence.  The plaintiffs argued that the employer was responsible for the employee’s intoxication and actions by organizing and supervising the Christmas party.  Furthermore, the Plaintiffs contended the employer was responsible to exercise reasonable care with respect to the employee’s consumption of alcohol such that he would not sustain a “relapse” that lead to the chain of events because of his alcohol consumption.  However, the Court of Appeals found that the employer actually exercised ordinary reasonable care in the organization of the holiday party, by refusing to allow the employees to go into the bar at the restaurant, and allowing only two drinks to be purchased by the employees.  Furthermore, the Court found that the employee’s voluntary consumption almost six hours after the party ended represented an intervening cause of which the employer was not responsible. 
 
In this case, the employer was represented by Richard K. Shoultz and Edward Thomas. The Appellate decision can be found at Thompson v. Fields Gutter & Siding, Inc., 2014 Ind. App. Unpub. LEXIS 1006 (Ind. Ct. App. 2014).