2019 Vermont Statutes
Title 7 - Alcoholic Beverages
Chapter 17 - Sale To Intoxicated Persons
§ 501 Unlawful sale of alcoholic beverages; civil action for damages
§ 501. Unlawful sale of alcoholic beverages; civil action for damages
(a) Action for damages. A spouse, child, guardian, employer, or other person who is injured in person, property, or means of support by an intoxicated person, or in consequence of the intoxication of any person, shall have a right of action in his or her own name, jointly or severally, against any person or persons who have caused in whole or in part the intoxication by selling or furnishing alcoholic beverages:
(1) to a minor as defined in section 2 of this title;
(2) to a person apparently under the influence of alcohol;
(3) to a person after legal serving hours; or
(4) to a person who it would be reasonable to expect would be under the influence of alcohol as a result of the amount of alcoholic beverages served by the defendant to that person.
(b) Survival of action; joint action. Upon the death of either party, the action and right of action shall survive to or against the party's executor or administrator. The party injured or his or her legal representatives may bring either a joint action against the person intoxicated, the person or persons who furnished the alcoholic beverages, and an owner who may be liable under subsection (c) of this section, or a separate action against either or any of them.
(c) Landlord liability.
(1) If the alcoholic beverages were sold or furnished to the intoxicated person in a rented building, the owner may be joined as a defendant in the action, and judgment in the action may be rendered against the owner, if the owner of the building or in the case of a corporation, its agent, knew or had reason to know that alcoholic beverages were sold or furnished by the tenant:
(A) to minors as defined in section 2 of this title;
(B) to persons apparently under the influence of alcohol;
(C) to persons after legal serving hours; or
(D) to persons who it would be reasonable to expect would be under the influence of alcohol as a result of the amount of alcoholic beverages served to them by the tenant.
(2) It shall be an affirmative defense to an action against an owner that the owner took reasonable steps to prevent the sale of alcoholic beverages under the circumstances described in this subsection or to evict the tenant.
(d) Statute of limitations. An action to recover damages under this section shall be commenced within two years after the cause of action accrues, and not after.
(1) In an action brought under this section, evidence of responsible actions taken or not taken is admissible, if otherwise relevant.
(2) Responsible actions may include instruction of servers as to laws governing the sale of alcoholic beverages, training of servers regarding intervention techniques, admonishment to patrons or guests concerning laws regarding the consumption of alcoholic beverages, and inquiry under the methods provided by law as to the age or degree of intoxication of the persons involved.
(f) Right of contribution. A defendant in an action brought under this section has a right of contribution from any other responsible person or persons, which may be enforced in a separate action brought for that purpose.
(g) Social host.
(1) Except as set forth in subdivision (2) of this subsection, nothing in this section shall create a statutory cause of action against a social host for furnishing alcoholic beverages to any person without compensation or profit. However, this subdivision shall not be construed to limit or otherwise affect the liability of a social host for negligence at common law.
(2) A social host who knowingly furnishes alcoholic beverages to a minor may be held liable under this section if the social host knew, or a reasonable person in the same circumstances would have known, that the person who received the alcoholic beverages was a minor.
(h) Definitions. As used in this section:
(1) "Apparently under the influence of alcohol" means a state of intoxication accompanied by a perceptible act or series of actions which present signs of intoxication.
(2) "Social host" means a person who is not the holder of a license or permit under this title and is not required to hold a license or permit under this title. (Amended 1987, No. 103, § 1; 1999, No. 116 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; 2017, No. 83, § 73.)