Karlie Tomica, a 20 year-old, self-professed “Party Princess” of Miami, FL, hit and killed the 49 year old South Beach chef Stefano Riccioletti on January 28, 2013 while driving drunk.  Miss Tomica was allegedly three times over the legal limit for intoxication when she was tested about two hours after the accident happened.  This story is tragic on so many levels.  First, three children lost their father and a wife lost her husband.  This grieving family is left wondering why this tragedy happened.  Secondly, a young girl only 20 years old must spend the rest of her life knowing that her moment of reckless actions resulted in a man’s death and shattered her own family.  No doubt the “Party Princess” will be held liable for her actions both in criminal court (by the government) and in civil court (by the Riccioletti family).    

One other aspect of this tragedy is the liability of the bar that served Ms. Tomica to the point where she was over three times the legal limit.  This is an area of the law that is called “dram shop” litigation.  A “dram shop” is a bar or restaurant that sells alcohol by the drink.  Some form of liquor liability laws exist in most U.S. states that prohibit the sale of alcohol to patrons who are either “visibly intoxicated” or “obviously intoxicated.”  The establishments that sell alcohol have a duty under the law to make sure that they are in compliance with their state’s laws.   

In this case, Miss Tomica apparently worked as a waitress or bartender at a bar called The Nikki Beach nightclub.  It is reported that this is where she was drinking – on a fake ID.  It seems unlikely that her employer, who would have likely had to have Tomica’s social security number and date of birth in their employment records, could not have known that she was under the legal drinking limit age.  Laws are put in place to protect young adults and teenagers from their own poor choices when it comes to drinking alcohol.   

Establishments that sell alcohol by the drink must also be held liable for their actions if they sell to someone who is so obviously drunk or underage.  Over 40 states have enacted dram shop or alcohol service laws by bars and restaurants in an effort to limit the number of drunk drivers on our roadways.  These laws are put in place for this very purpose since people who are drinking heavily often lose the ability to make good decisions and well as their inhibitions and their common sense. 

In Kansas City Missouri and across our state, dram shop laws prohibit the sale of alcohol to a “visibly intoxicated” person and to minors under the legal drinking age.  If the Nikki Beach nightclub in Florida has properly trained their employees, the employees will have the proper tools to determine if someone is legally intoxicated, what to do if they are faced with an intoxicated patron, how to keep intoxicated patrons from getting behind the wheel of a vehicle.   

The lawyers at Griggs Injury Law, LLC have dedicated their legal practice to reducing drunk driving accidents by pursuing bars that break Missouri dram shop laws. Annette Griggs knows what bars and restaurants are supposed to do to keep drunk patrons from killing innocent motorists.