A Florida law firm, which has a bar on its premises to encourage socializing among employees and longer working hours, will not be held liable for the death of a drunk paralegal. The news comes as a result of a recent ruling from the Fourth District Court of Appeal.
Susan Salerno, a paralegal for Gladstone Law Group, was killed by a train while walking home for work after having drunk to excess on June 19, 2013. However, because the accident occurred outside the scope of the woman’s employment (according to the Fourth District’s decision), the firm is not liable for her death.
Looking at the arguments
The complainants argued that the firm either knew or should have known Salerno was an alcoholic, because she was required to attend meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous. The firm’s bar served Salerno so many drinks she became agitated, and had to be escorted out of the building. Her estate sued for wrongful death, citing a law that creates cause of action against any vendors who sell alcohol to alcoholics who cause damages because of their drunkenness.
However, the appeals court said that statute only applies to vendors, not employers, and ruling in favor of the complainants would have set difficult precedent for employer liability.
Representatives from the Gladstone Law Group told reporters that the firm and its staff are very sorry for the loss of Salerno’s family, but that factually or legally it could not be held responsible for the woman’s death.
For more information on employer versus vendor liability related to serious or fatal accidents, contact an experienced Bradenton personal injury lawyer with Goldman, Babboni, Fernandez, Murphy & Walsh.