Dram Shop/Liquor Liability Law

The attorneys at Brewer Krause Brooks Chastain & Meisner, PLLC who handle these matters have years of experience defending bars and restaurants in complicated state and federal actions involving Tennessee’s Dram Shop Statute, intentional torts caused by patrons and/or employees, as well as regulatory matters involving Tennessee’s Alcoholic Beverage Commission. The following are some of the key focus areas:


Traditionally, the term “dram shop” referred to a shop where spirits were sold by the dram, a small unit of liquid. In the United States, dram shop liability is often used to describe various State statutes governing the civil liability of restaurants, taverns, liquor stores and other commercial establishments that sell alcoholic beverages. Dram shop laws generally establish civil liability of establishments arising out of the sale of alcohol to visibly intoxicated persons or minors who subsequently cause death or injury to third parties (those not having a relationship to the bar) as a result of alcohol-related car crashes and other accidents. These types of cases often involve complicated claims for damages and the need for retention of experts to address questions of “visible intoxication.” In light of our significant experience in this area, we have extensive access to investigative techniques and experts to defend bars and restaurants who find themselves on the receiving end of a claim under Tennessee’s Dram Shop Statute.


We represent clients in premise liability cases where the plaintiff asserts the owner is legally responsible for the criminal act of a third-party. In Tennessee, premise owners can be found legally liable for the criminal acts of third parties if such acts were reasonably foreseeable given past experiences. This can involve assaults by patrons inside and outside an owner’s premises. Given our experience in trying alcohol-related claims in both State and Federal Courts, we have access to experts and an investigative team to get out on the front end of these types of claims and provide solid defenses to our restaurant and bar clients.


Bars and restaurants in Tennessee are regulated by the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission as well as local municipal beer boards. The ABC regulations and the regulations of the individual municipalities can be confusing and can result in disruption to business practices if businesses are not appraised of the appropriate procedure and steps to take when a violation occurs. We provide counsel to business owners in actions taken by State and local municipalities against the liquor by the drink license and beer permits.


Given our extensive experience in trying complicated cases involving liquor liability and dram shop claims, we provide comprehensive planning and risk assessment for our bar and restaurant clients. This includes development of sound policies and procedures to protect business owners from a potential claim by patrons, as well as compliance with ABC rules and regulations and municipal regulations that may apply. We also provide hands on training with wait staff and security personnel regarding key aspects of liability in Tennessee.

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