Chapman v. Mayfield

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Tort Law
  • Date Filed: 11-13-2015
  • Case #: S062455
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Brewer, J. for the Court; En Banc.
  • Full Text Opinion

For negligence claims, courts must consider each case on its own facts, especially in cases involving third party criminal conduct. However, alleging over-service on the part of a bar is not alone sufficient to establish foreseeability of the type of harm that actually resulted.

Plaintiffs appeal the trial court’s grant of summary judgment for Defendant. Plaintiffs were injured after Mayfield drank at Defendant’s bar and then shot through a doorway, hitting Plaintiffs. Plaintiffs sued Defendant, alleging negligence. In order to succeed under a claim of negligence, Plaintiffs needed to plead and prove that Defendant’s conduct created a foreseeable and unreasonable risk of harm to Plaintiffs that in fact caused the harm. Before the trial court, Defendant argued that Plaintiffs could not prove that the harm caused, an unintentional shooting by an intoxicated patron, was foreseeable. The Supreme Court held that the relevant question for foreseeability was whether a reasonable person considering the potential harms that might result from his or her conduct would “have reasonably expected the injury to occur.” The Court held that alleging over-service alone was not sufficient to establish foreseeability. Plaintiffs alleged the following facts: (1) that Mayfield was over-served and visibly intoxicated; (2) intoxicated drinkers frequently become violent; (3) the link between visible intoxication and increased levels of violence has been well understood and publicized for decades; and (4) professional servers are aware of a connection between alcohol and violence. Such evidence was not sufficient to prove foreseeability of the type of harm caused, which the Court defined as “an unintentional attack by a visibly intoxicated patron after he had left Defendant’s premises.” The decision is limited to the facts in the record before the Court. Affirmed.

Advanced Search