2020 Connecticut General Statutes
Title 30 - Intoxicating Liquors
Chapter 545 - Liquor Control Act
Section 30-102 - Dram Shop Act; liquor seller liable for damage by intoxicated person. No negligence cause of action for sale to person twenty-one years of age or older.
If any person, by such person or such person's agent, sells any alcoholic liquor to an intoxicated person, and such purchaser, in consequence of such intoxication, thereafter injures the person or property of another, such seller shall pay just damages to the person injured, up to the amount of two hundred fifty thousand dollars, or to persons injured in consequence of such intoxication up to an aggregate amount of two hundred fifty thousand dollars, to be recovered in an action under this section, provided the aggrieved person or persons shall give written notice to such seller of such person's or persons' intention to bring an action under this section. Such notice shall be given (1) within one hundred twenty days of the occurrence of such injury to person or property, or (2) in the case of the death or incapacity of any aggrieved person, within one hundred eighty days of the occurrence of such injury to person or property. Such notice shall specify the time, the date and the person to whom such sale was made, the name and address of the person injured or whose property was damaged, and the time, date and place where the injury to person or property occurred. No action under the provisions of this section shall be brought but within one year from the date of the act or omission complained of. Such injured person shall have no cause of action against such seller for negligence in the sale of alcoholic liquor to a person twenty-one years of age or older.
(1949 Rev., S. 4307; 1955, S. 2172d; 1957, P.A. 306; 1959, P.A. 631, S. 1; 1961, P.A. 432; P.A. 74-144, S. 1, 2; P.A. 86-338, S. 7; P.A. 87-227, S. 11; P.A. 03-91, S. 1; P.A. 06-69, S. 1; P.A. 07-165, S. 1.)
History: 1959 act limited recovery to $25,000 and extended the notice period from 60 to 90 days; 1961 act reduced recoverable amount to $20,000 and notice period to 60 days and placed $50,000 limitation on aggregate amount recoverable; P.A. 74-144 specified factors to be considered in computing 60-day period; P.A. 86-338 added Subsec. (b) establishing a rebuttable presumption that the last seller is solely liable; P.A. 87-227 deleted provision added in 1986 which established a rebuttable presumption that the last seller is solely liable; P.A. 03-91 made technical changes for the purpose of gender neutrality, raised damages limits to $250,000 for injured person or persons and prohibited negligence action against seller for sale of alcoholic liquor to person 21 years of age or older, effective June 3, 2003; P.A. 06-69 extended notice period from 60 to 120 days and deleted provision re time excluded from computation of 60-day period, effective October 1, 2006, and applicable to causes of action arising on or after that date; P.A. 07-165 repositioned existing provision re written notice within 120 days of occurrence of injury as Subdiv. (1) and added provision re notice in case of death or incapacity of aggrieved person as Subdiv. (2), effective July 1, 2007, and applicable to causes of action arising on or after that date.
Prior to 1957 amendment, statute governed by a 3-year statute of limitations. 142 C. 452. It is not necessary to prove a causal connection between the sale of the intoxicating liquor and the injury; the delict defined is not the sale of liquor to create the condition of intoxication but sale to one already intoxicated. 143 C. 53. The word “sell” is used in the sense of purvey or furnish; the dispensing of food in a restaurant for consumption on the premises does not constitute a sale but rather a service; a permit to sell liquor is a matter of privilege and not of right; by engaging in the liquor business, the permittee assumes the risk of a variety of situations which could impose liability on him; it is not an unconstitutional exercise of the police power for a permittee who sells in violation of the law to be prevented from defending on the ground that the particular drink which he sold did not cause or contribute to the buyer's intoxication; the furnishing of intoxicants for a price to a group of 2 or more in one company may be considered a sale to each member of that group. 144 C. 241. 1959 act limiting recovery to $25,000 held substantive in nature and not applicable to pending action. 149 C. 402. Requirement of written notice to seller does not require plaintiff to give a “signed” written notice. Id., 405. Dram Shop Act modifies common law rule that the proximate cause of intoxication is consumption of liquor, not furnishing of it, and is restricted to its terms; history of section. 154 C. 432. As a matter of law, negligent act of seller or donor of intoxicating beverages is not a substantial factor in recipient's injury of third party. 170 C. 356. Cited. 176 C. 676; 180 C. 252. There is no common law right of action in negligence against one who furnishes intoxicating liquor to another who becomes intoxicated and causes injury; however, an individual may be liable for the injurious consequences of wanton and reckless conduct in furnishing alcoholic beverages to another. 181 C. 355. Cited. 187 C. 147. To recover under statute, an essential element is proof that patron was intoxicated; to be intoxicated is something more than to be merely under the influence of, or affected to some extent by, liquor; it means an abnormal or physical condition due to the influence of intoxicating liquors, a visible excitation of the passions and impairment of the judgment, or a derangement or impairment of physical functions and energies. 196 C. 341. Cited. 201 C. 385. Payments under this section not encompassed by set off provisions of Sec. 38-175c(b)(1). 205 C. 178. Cited. 207 C. 88; 211 C. 67. Neither common law negligence action nor a public nuisance action exist against commercial vendor selling intoxicating liquor to an adult who because of his intoxication thereafter injures another. 213 C. 343. Cited. 214 C. 1; 223 C. 22. Section creates cause of action; does not require insurance coverage. Id., 31. Cited. 233 C. 174; 236 C. 670. Dram Shop Act does not occupy the field so as to preclude a common-law action in negligence against purveyor of alcoholic beverages for service of alcoholic liquor to an adult patron who, as a result of intoxication, injures another. 262 C. 312. Intoxication under section requires both an internal effect and an external manifestation; plaintiff not entitled to judgment in his favor without proving that patron was visibly or otherwise perceivably intoxicated when sold alcoholic liquor. 307 C. 231.
Cited. 6 CA 491; 11 CA 122; Id., 420; 15 CA 392; 16 CA 497; 22 CA 384; 26 CA 509; 31 CA 757; 34 CA 655. 60-day notice requirement is a condition precedent to maintaining an action that alleges only a violation of Dram Shop Act. 53 CA 282. Bar and restaurant owners may be liable for harm caused by employees consuming liquor on the job. 82 CA 186. To prove intoxication pursuant to section, plaintiff must present evidence showing visible or perceivable intoxication. 128 CA 794; judgment affirmed in part, see 307 C. 231. Award of interest pursuant to Sec. 52-192a for an unaccepted offer of compromise, in addition to judgment award of $250,000 as limited by this section, did not undermine the legislative purpose of limiting recoverable damages under Dram Shop Act. 136 CA 805.
Under former section, 1-year limitation period under statute enumerating classes of torts did not apply. 18 CS 224. Corporation is liable as seller; history of section reviewed. Id., 271. Statute is compensatory as well as criminal; public policy not against a liquor seller insuring against his liability. 19 CS 222. Permittee not liable under statute for injuries to the intoxicated person himself. Id., 311. Connecticut will enforce provisions of the New York Dram Shop Act where injury occurred in this state. 20 CS 165. Court could not enlarge upon the cause of action created by the legislature. Id., 183. By “just damages” is meant compensatory, rather than exemplary or punitive, damages. 22 CS 297. Notice provision is mandatory and not excused by death of person injured. 23 CS 104. Statute does not specify no action shall be maintained unless requirement of notice is met, only limitation being that action be brought within 1 year from date of act or omission complained of. Id., 146. Dram Shop Act does not give remedy to one who joins and participates in and contributes to its violation. Id., 193. The 60-day notice is a condition precedent to bringing of action. 25 CS 1. Notice which contained no information relative to the names of the persons to whom the sale was made, held invalid. 31 CS 405. Contributory negligence and assumption of risk not defenses to dram shop action; participation defense discussed. 35 CS 91. “Participation” and “assumption of risk” are not applicable defenses. 39 CS 20. Sufficiency of notice discussed. 40 CS 48. Cited. Id., 331.
Constitutionality of act no longer an open question. 4 Conn. Cir. Ct. 89.