It has been a while since we have had to put our lawyer hat on to look at an issue facing American soccer. However, the news just broke that DC United forward Charlie Davies has filed a $20 million lawsuit against various parties stemming from his car accident in 2009. The defendants in the suit include the bar that hosted the event where he spent his night and Red Bull North America, an event sponsor. As part of the lawsuit, Davies alleges that the accident negatively impacted his soccer career on both the national team and club level. According to the Washington Post, “the lawsuit claims Red Bull hosted the event at Shadow Room and ”had a duty to be aware of the provisions” in the District’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Act that prohibits the “sale or delivery of alcoholic beverages to … an intoxicated person or any person who appears to be intoxicated.”
Many states have “dram shop acts” that allow victims injured by drunk persons to bring claims against the owners of bars and other establishments that serve alcohol to an intoxicated person. It is my understanding that DC does not have a traditional statute, however, according to MADD, District of Columbia common law (i.e. decisions by judges rather than statutes) imposes liability on shop owners. If that is correct, it will be interesting to see how Davies’ lawyers attempt to apply the law to Red Bull North America, the company that simply sponsored the event. The irony of Red Bull and DC being competitors is an odd side issue in what promises to be an interesting case to follow.