A Jacksonville hookah bar has been named in a civil lawsuit by the family of a teenage girl who was killed by an underage drinker who had just left the bar. The collision happened around midnight November 14, 2010, when a 20-year-old US Navy sailor left the bar in Jacksonville, which had a reputation for serving underage drinkers. His car slammed into one being driven by a 19-year-old who was minutes away from her home to make her 12:30 a.m. curfew. The young man has been charged with DUI and vehicular homicide, which if convicted, can bring him 15 years in prison.
According to a story in First Coast News, before the crash, people on Facebook commented that the bar would serve underage drinkers. The sailor had a blood alcohol level of .204 – almost three times the legal limit for intoxication (0.08), according to the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP). And the news station says the young man had just been released from rehab.
The teenage girl was planning to be a pharmacist. Her family says she was an organ donor and at least her death meant life for some other people.
Under Florida Statute 768.125, an establishment is not liable for injuries caused by someone who was just drinking at its bar unless the drunk driver was under the age of 21, or unless the establishment knew the person was habitually addicted to alcohol. In the latter case, a bartender can claim that they had no knowledge of the habits of the alcoholic, but in the first case there is very little wiggle room- either the drinker was 21 or not.
This case is being prepared for trial. Our condolences go out to the family and friends of the young woman who died through no fault of her own.
Sources: http://www.firstcoastnews.com/news/local/article/213717/3/Hookah-Bar-Sued-for-Serving-Minor-Involved-in-Fatal-Accident and http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=0700-0799/0768/Sections/0768.125.html