Mass. High Court: Paralyzed Patron Can Sue Bar

January 11, 2007

A man paralyzed in a car crash after a night of underage drinking can sue the bars that served him alcohol, the state’s highest court has ruled.

The Supreme Judicial Court rejected claims by Robert Nunez that two North Shore establishments knowingly served him when he was already intoxicated, but the court allowed him to sue for negligence for serving a minor.

“The Legislature has consistently recognized the dangers of furnishing alcohol to young adults who have not reached the legal drinking age of 21 years,” the SJC’s ruling said. “Because (Nunez) was under the legal drinking age, he need only establish that the actions of the defendants were negligent.”

Nunez, was 18 on May 11, 2002 when he was pinned beneath his car following an accident in Malden. The accident left him a paraplegic.

His blood alcohol, level was .13, above the legal limit of .08.

Nunez, of Revere, said he drank six glasses of vodka and soda with his dinner at Carrabba’s Italian Grill restaurant in Peabody just hours before the crash. He had worked at the restaurant and many of the workers there knew him.

He also said he was served two more drinks at The Palace nightclub in Saugus, where employees also knew him.

Nunez admits in court documents that he was driving drunk and carrying a fake ID card when his sport utility vehicle collided with another car.

Nunez, now 23, sued Carrabba’s and The Palace to hold them responsible for his injuries.

“He wanted everything that we all want,” Nunez’s attorney John Dodge said, “a family and everything else.”

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