Our co-founding partner, David Yarborough, was interviewed by Mark Bringardner of Joye Law Firm on his podcast, The Sidebar, this month, where he shared his experience on dram shop litigation and trial strategy, as well as offered invaluable advice on how to develop skills as a trial lawyer. Bringardner introduced Yarborough as one of the top trial attorneys in South Carolina and Yarborough Applegate Law firm as one of the preeminent boutique Plaintiff’s trial firms in the State.
In the episode, Yarborough discusses the contents of the Dram Shop or alcohol-liability book he co-authored for the South Carolina bar, as well as case studies he has experienced in the area.
Dram shop laws are named after establishments in 18th century England that sold alcohol by the spoonful, also called a “dram.” Enforced by civil lawsuits, dram shop laws allow people injured or killed by drunk drivers to sue alcohol vendors or retailers for monetary damages for the over-service of alcohol.
“In South Carolina, we have several criminal statutes that prohibit the sale of alcohol by a commercial establishment to an intoxicated person. In any case involving a drunk or impaired person, whether it’s a driver, a boater, someone who gets in a fight in a bar…, you need to be looking at where they got the alcohol,” Yarborough says in the episode.
Associating co-counsel who understands how to handle these specialized alcohol liability cases as quickly as possible is a vital first step in helping you understand the laws in your state, and to help determine if you have a good dram shop case.
“These cases are very difficult and they are expensive,” Yarborough says. “They are challenging because, often times, a knowledgeable lawyer who understands how to prosecute dram shop cases is not brought on until months or years after the fact. [At that point], the video surveillance is no longer available, receipts are no longer available, bartenders’ memories are faded.”
In addition to explaining the complexities of dram shop litigation, Yarborough also shares some helpful strategies on how to prove that the bar or bartender was aware or should have been aware that they were violating criminal statutes or internal written company policies, how to appeal to a jury through storytelling at trial and how to secure million dollar settlements or verdicts in these types of difficult cases.
Finally, Yarborough offers invaluable advice to young lawyers on how to build a successful personal injury practice themselves.
“Get out of law school, do a clerkship with a state court or federal court judge and get with a firm where you are going to go get trial experience,” Yarborough says. “There’s just no substitute for hard work.”
You can learn more about dram shop law, as well as what to do if you find yourself in need of representation, by listening to the latest episode of The Sidebar, available on Apple Podcasts, iTunes and anywhere else you listen to podcasts. You can also read more about dram shop litigation in South Carolina Dram Shop Litigation: A Practice Guide, a book authored by Yarborough alongside fellow attorneys David L. Savage and David B. Lail.