Florida Supreme Court Pulled Into Underage Drinking Case After Woman Left Permanently Injured
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Florida Supreme Court Pulled Into Underage Drinking Case After Woman Left Permanently Injured

Florida Supreme Court Pulled Into Underage Drinking Case After Woman Left Permanently Injured

Potbelly’s in Tallahassee, Florida where the alleged underage drinking occurred (Photo: Google Street View)

On Monday the Florida Supreme Court agreed to hear a case involving PotBelly’s, a bar near the Florida State University campus, and catastrophic injuries suffered by an 18-year-old Tampa woman. This is after an appeals court rejected a judgment that would have seen both Potbelly’s and Cantina 101 paying $28.6 million and being held at fault for allowing underage drinking. 

The original case involved Jacquelyn Faircloth, who in 2014 was hit by a pickup truck while crossing a street around 2 a.m according to court records. This is said to have occurred after she had been drinking alcohol at the bar Cantina 101. The driver of the vehicle, 20-year-old Devon Dwyer is said to have been drinking at Potbelly’s. Therefore, both individuals are alleged to have been underage drinking at these two respective establishments. 

In July of this year, a petition was filed by attorneys for Faircloth’s guardian to the Supreme Court. It argued that the bars should be considered an “intentional tort” or knowingly or purposefully caused harm for selling alcohol to underage drinkers rather than negligence as determined in the previous judgment.

Also in July, Florida State University and the University of Florida submitted a notice that they plan to file a brief at the Supreme Court in support of Faircloth’s guardian.

According to WUSF, the notice stated, “FSU and UF face many challenges in their responsibilities to their large student populations, which include thousands of students who are not of lawful drinking age. One of the most serious challenges facing the universities, like all colleges and universities, is unlawful, underage drinking, intoxication and alcohol abuse. FSU and UF have each devoted substantial resources and engaged in concerted and significant efforts to address the public health crisis on their campuses posed by unlawful, underage drinking, intoxication and alcohol abuse.”

In August, Potbelly’s attorneys filed an answer brief urging the Supreme Court to reject the case. 

“The opinion correctly relied on this Court’s precedent to conclude that serving alcohol to patrons under the lawful drinking age is not an intentional tort that prohibits applying comparative fault principles,” wrote the bar’s attorneys and former Supreme Court Justice Raoul Cantero according to documents obtained by WUSF.

As of Monday, the Supreme Court had yet to schedule arguments. The court’s decision could have an effect on how bars are held responsible for underage drinking and its consequences in future cases.


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Jessica Gleman is the managing editor of Rum Raiders. She received her Ph.D. at the University College of Dublin in Ireland, where she studied the archaeology of ancient alcohol. Jessica has a passion for the alcohol industry, including agriculture, distillation and mixology. When Jessica is not writing about rum, she is also a travel and food enthusiast who loves going around the world and experiencing various cuisines and cultures. She is enthusiastic about sharing her knowledge and expertise and learning even more about this amazing spirit.