Court Rules Mississippi Casino Not Liable for Death of Drunk Patron

July 23, 2014

A federal appeals court has declined to allow the family of Bryan Lee Glenn to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit that alleges a Biloxi, Mississippi, casino kept serving drinks to the man while he was drunk.

Glenn, 30, collapsed in his hotel room at the IP Casino resort the night of Aug. 6, 2009, and died the next day of alcohol poisoning combined with prescription medications, court records show.

The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Gulfport, Mississippi, by Glenn’s family in 2012. The lawsuit sought $75 million in damages. At the time of Glenn’s death, the casino was known as Imperial Palace; Boyd Gaming bought it in 2011.

Glenn had taken prescription painkillers as well as anti-psychotic medications in the weeks before his death, the lawsuit said. He was being treated for physical injuries as well as psychosis and hallucinations. Glenn had suffered a brain injury in a 2004 four-wheeler accident and back injuries in a 2007 car wreck.

Joanne Glenn argued that the casino was told about her son’s condition but kept serving him.

The casino’s attorneys argued that the case fell under Mississippi’s “dram shop” law. The law holds businesses liable if they serve alcohol to a patron who is visibly drunk and then kills or injures someone else. They said the law “is not intended for the protection of visibly intoxicated patrons.”

U.S. District Judge Sul Ozerden dismissed the lawsuit in 2013, agreeing with the casino’s lawyers that the state law didn’t apply.

This week, a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Ozerden’s ruling.

“Under Mississippi law, the proximate cause of bodily harm resulting from intoxication is the consumption — not the provision or sale — of alcohol. Bryan’s consumption — not any action by IP — caused his harm. IP therefore had no duty, and no liability,” the panel said.

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Latest Comments

  • July 23, 2014 at 4:10 pm
    SWFL Agent says:
    Mississippi finally gets one right.
  • July 23, 2014 at 2:00 pm
    Libby says:
    Good call.
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