The Tennessee Supreme Court has ruled UNANIMOUSLY that gas stations owe a duty or reasonable care to other motorists when they sell gas to obviously intoxicated drivers or assist them in pumping gas into their vehicles. Recently, a clerk refused to sell a drunk driver alcohol, but helped him put gas in his car when he was too drunk to operate the pump. This poor decision resulted in a drunk driving accident just minutes afterwards. After filling the tank, the drunk drove off in the wrong lane of the roadway, with no headlights on and stuck another car, severely injuring two people.
The Tenessee Supreme Court rejected the Defendant’s argument that no duty was owed to Plaintiffs, since no “special relationship” existed which gave rise to a duty to control customers. The Court held that the duty arose by the gas station attendant’s affirmative conduct which contributed to a forseeable and unreasonable risk of harm to others. I congratulate the Court for its reasoned and fair analysis.