TORTS DutyPosted by BS - 26/04/12 at 10:04 am
Davis v. Dionne, 2011 ME 90, 26 A.3d 801, Silver, J.
This is a personal injury case in which the plaintiff was injured by a drunken driver. Both plaintiff and the intoxicated person had just gotten off a bus which had transported them on a business-related fishing trip during which the intoxicated party had become intoxicated on liquor provided by one of the businesses involved in the excursion. The plaintiff failed to file his notice of claim under the Liquor Liability Act timely, and therefore those claims had been dismissed and no appeal was taken from the dismissal.
In order to recover against the bus company and the person who organized the trip, the plaintiff had to establish that one or both of them owed him a duty based on relationship other than that of furnishing the alcohol. The duty of the bus owner was that of a common carrier, which is a heightened standard of care that continues until the passenger has been given a reasonably safe discharge at a reasonably safe location. Since the discharge area was established before the excursion and the driver had not been negligent in operating the vehicle, the bus company had fulfilled its duty, and the Court noted that it had previously declined to extend a common carrier’s duty “to include an in loco parentis type of responsibility to intervene in an arguably intoxicated passenger’s life, perhaps against the passenger’s wishes, to insure that the passenger does not harm himself or herself after the common carrier has given the safe exit that the law requires.”
The Court declined to create additional duties on the basis of the invoice’s stating that consumption of alcohol on the bus was prohibited, nor did it find there was a fiduciary relationship between the organizer of the expedition and the plaintiff.