Litigation Libations

drunk criminal dogFive inmates at the Idaho State Correctional Institution are suing national beer and wine companies for $1 billion, claiming that alcohol was responsible for their crimes. Wait. What? The inmates, who do not yet have an attorney (surprise), state alcohol “played a major role” in most of the situations that landed them in prison. Moreover, the suit states, the plaintiffs were never informed that alcohol was habit forming or addictive and they would not have started to drink if they knew alcohol was habit forming. The five inmates believe their crimes would not have occurred if they were not alcoholics.

So these guys don’t have a lawyer? Huh. Weird, right? Casually demanding a cool billion from “Miller Brewing Company, Anheuser-Busch Co., Adolph Coors Co., Brown-Furman Co., American Brands Inc., Pepsi-Cola, RJR Nabisco, Gallo’s Winery, Ernest Gallo and Julio Gallo,” because they were drunk during their crimes and ipso facto it’s the booze’s fault. Pretty cut and dry in my book. I know all you 1Ls out there just finished up exams but let this be a Torts’ lesson in causation.

Let’s apply the old “but for” test here: But for the inmates being wastey-face, they wouldn’t have committed voluntary manslaughter; grand theft; drug convictions or shot a victim. Stop here and you’ll get a C on your exam. The more impressive students will continue their analysis. The ol’ foreseeability factor. Serving a combined 50+ year sentence because you drink some of grandpa’s old cough syrup is not exactly foreseeable. I think that is going to hurt their case.

P.S. Too bad they weren’t charged with drunk texting their ex. That would be an open and shut case and these guys would get to split that billion in 10-15 years.

Double P.S.: Which one of the inmates added Gallo’s Winery? I need to know who committed a crime because they were hammered on Gallo’s. If it was Franzia I would understand, but not 2009 Turning Leaf Chardonnay.

Post image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Douglas Stephan is a solo attorney and owner of the Law Office of Douglas A. Stephan. He received his JD in 2010 from Ohio Northern University and BA from Ohio University. His practice is located outside of Dayton, Ohio. You can follow him on Twitter @stephanlaw.

3 Comments

  1. Jeana Brookes

    January 8, 2013 at 10:50 am

    College students everywhere are waiting to see how this one turns out. And on another non-related note, I would have loved to be a fly on the prison wall when these five drafted their litigation.

  2. Santfore

    January 8, 2013 at 7:36 pm

    I don’t cthink these people should have a case. Where are the pretty women lawyers? Do any exist anymore?

  3. southern bitter

    January 9, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    i think their case is over at duty of care. AB’s duty of care is to get you wastey-face so you drink more AB. they satisfied their duty of care because these ‘tards were in fact wastey-face (my new favorite word I think).

    i wonder how they address the issue of the surgeon general’s warning that is on every bottle. this is legal genius. post the pleadings next time.

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