Tiger Woods Wrongful Death Lawsuit: How’s It Possible?

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Tiger Woods was just sued for wrongful death by the parents of man who tragically died from driving drunk. 

How is that possible?

The lawsuit names Tiger Woods personally, Tiger’s restaurant “The Woods” where the man had been drinking and Tiger’s girlfriend, Erica Herman, who was also the manager of the restaurant.

The allegations in the lawsuit are that the restaurant “over-served a young man alcohol who they knew was suffering from the disease of alcoholism” and then sent him out to his car to drive home.  Even though Tiger and his girlfriend weren’t even at the restaurant when this happened, the lawsuit sues both of them claiming that he and she are responsible for the actions of his and her employees.

This lawsuit is based on the Florida Dram law, Florida Statute 768.125. Dram laws are essentially laws that make people who sell alcohol responsible for injuries caused by the person being served if the seller knowingly sells to a minor or to a person “habitually addicted” to alcohol.

So, you maybe thinking, are people no longer responsible for their own actions?  And the answer is that you are always responsible for your own actions but Dram laws are intended to add responsibility to the bars and bar owners who: (1) should have more control over their actions; and (2) who are more financially able to compensate victims of drunk driving.

Dram laws are meant so that bars have to think twice about serving another drink to the really drunk guy.  And also so that in case the drunk guy gets in his car and hurts someone – that person might have financial recourse against an entity – like maybe the bar’s insurance company.

HOWEVER, this lawsuit has two BIG problems.  (Tiger – call me if you need any help with this lawsuit.)

First, statutes which contradict common law – which this one does must be strictly construed.  And the Florida Dram law specifically applies only to persons who sell the alcohol.  And Tiger Woods didn’t sell the alcohol to the Plaintiff in this case.  That’s strike one.

Second, the Florida law says that the seller of alcohol is responsible for the injuries caused by the person who is intoxicated.  Fortunately, the person in this case only injured himself

Now the parents response here is that they are victims and injured party resulting from the intoxication, and, as much as you feel for the parents here emotionally, the law is not meant as a means for recovery for the intoxicated person or their family – it’s really meant to help innocent victims in other cars or pedestrians.

For these reasons, I would say this lawsuit and especially the Counts as to Tiger Woods personally, are not going far. 

Jeremy Hogan
Jeremy Hogan
Attorney Jeremy Hogan is a partner at Hogan & Hogan.