In this action of tort in three counts, a judge of the Superior Court sustained a demurrer to the declaration for failure to state a cause of action, and pursuant to G.L.c. 231, § 111, reported the correctness of his rulings to this court.
Count 1 is by the plaintiff individually for his own personal injuries. Counts 2 and 3 are by the plaintiff as administrator of the estate of June Adamian, count 2 for wrongful death, and count 3 for conscious suffering. The substantial allegations are identical in the three counts. The defendant owned and operated a restaurant and barroom in Waltham. It was licensed as a common victualler under G.L.c. 140, and as a seller of alcoholic beverages to be drunk on the premises under G.L.c. 138. The defendant
General Laws c. 138, § 69, as appearing in St. 1933, c. 376, § 2, the statute alleged to have been violated, provides: "No alcoholic beverage shall be sold or delivered on any premises licensed under this chapter [entitled "Alcoholic Liquors"] to a person who is known to be a drunkard, to an intoxicated person, or to a person who is known to have been intoxicated within the six months last preceding, or to a person known to be supported in whole or in part by public charity." Section 62 of the statute makes a violation of § 69 a criminal offence.
A violation of a criminal statute is some evidence of the defendant's negligence as to all consequences the statute was intended to prevent. Guinan v. Famous Players-Lasky Corp. 267 Mass. 501, 516. Baggs v. Hirschfield, 293 Mass. 1, 3. Falvey v. Hamelburg, 347 Mass. 430, 434. See Prosser, Torts (3d ed.) § 35, pp. 191 et seq.; Thayer, Public Wrong and Private Action, 27 Harv. L. Rev. 317. Had injury resulted to a customer on premises licensed under G.L.c. 138 at the hands of another customer who had been served liquor while intoxicated in violation of § 69, there could have been liability. See Kane v. Fields Corner Grille, Inc. 341 Mass. 640; Wood v. Ray-Al Cafe, Inc. 349 Mass. 766.
Nor is the statute to be nullified by an inflexible adherence to the theory that the drinker alone is responsible, regardless of how intoxicated he may be when a bartender repeatedly serves him. For statements of this theory see Fleckner v. Dionne, 94 Cal.App.2d 246;
A strong recent trend has been that the sale by a bartender to an intoxicated drinker may be found to be the proximate cause of an injury to a third person caused by the drinker's driving of an automobile. The first case in the trend was Waynick v. Chicago's Last Dept. Store, 269 F.2d 322 (7th Cir.). This was closely followed by Rappaport v. Nichols, 31 N.J. 188, a unanimous opinion by Jacobs, J., with which we fully agree. Most recent cases are to the same effect. See Davis v. Shiappacossee, 155 So.2d 365 (Fla.); Colligan
Henceforth in this Commonwealth waste of human life due to drunken driving on the highways will not be left outside the scope of the foreseeable risk created by the sale of liquor to an already intoxicated individual. We are unwilling to hold that the defendant's act could not, as matter of law, be the proximate cause of the injuries to the plaintiff and to his intestate.
In accordance with the terms of the report, the demurrer is to be overruled.