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Morristown Personal Injury Attorney > Blog > Drunk Driving Accidents > New Jersey Cleared of Liability in College Student’s Death

New Jersey Cleared of Liability in College Student’s Death


When a person is intoxicated and they end up getting injured or killed, people often want to blame someone other than the drunk person. While there are dram shop laws in place in certain states, that does not mean that a bar, restaurant, or other place that serves alcohol is at fault for an accident.

This is what happened in the case of a Rutgers University student. The 19-year-old from New Jersey was outside of a nightclub when he was hit and killed by a car. The man was intoxicated at the time and his family tried to sue the nightclub for his death. After more than four years of litigation, a New Jersey judge dismissed a claim against Perle Night Club & Lounge, which is no longer in business. The reasoning was that while the man was visibly intoxicated at the club, it had not served him any alcohol.

The tragic accident happened on September 28, 2019. The Rutgers University sophomore went to the club in downtown New Brunswick for a private event sponsored by a local sorority. The man drank alcohol at a party prior to the event but was not served any alcohol at Perle. However, it was clear that he was visibly intoxicated. About 20 minutes after he left the club, he stumbled into the street and was struck and killed by an Uber vehicle. New Brunswick police stated that the driver was under the influence of marijuana at the time of the crash. The driver was charged with vehicular homicide and driving with a suspended license.

The victim’s parents brought a lawsuit against a variety of defendants, including the sorority that hosted the events, the driver, and Uber. The family also sued Perlel, even though the club did not serve the man any alcohol. The lawsuit claimed negligent hiring, supervision, and training of its employees, as well as negligent supervision of the man. However, liability attaches to an establishment only in cases where alcohol is served to either a visibly intoxicated person or a minor, when the server should have known that the person served was a minor.

After the conclusion of discovery, Perle moved for summary judgment, stating that the Dram Shop Act did not apply in this case, as the nightclub did not serve the man any alcohol. Because the Dram Shop Act provides the exclusive remedy against a licensed alcoholic beverage server, any claims of general negligence and negligent supervision/security were barred.

However, the plaintiffs argued Perle voluntarily assumed a duty to the man to ensure he safely arrived home. The judge deemed this an imaginative cause of action that was not consistent with the Dram Shop Act. The case against Perle was ultimately dismissed.

Contact a New Jersey Personal Injury Lawyer Today

New Jersey’s dram shop law may allow victims of drunk driving accidents to recover compensation from liable bars and servers. However, liability cannot be proven if the establishment did not actually serve a drunk person.

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a crash, contact a Morristown drunk driving accidents attorney from The Law Offices of Michael P. Burakoff. Our team can assess your case and help determine liability. To schedule a free consultation, call (973) 455-156 or fill out the online form.



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