Three years ago, Robert E. Nunez II got into a horrific car crash in Malden, Ma., after a night of bar-hopping during which he says he had eight drinks of vodka and soda. The accident left him a paraplegic, reports the Boston Globe. Nunez acknowledges that he was driving drunk and also carrying a phony ID card because he was just 19 at the time, too young to drink legally. A judge has ruled he can sue two bars for negligence on the grounds that they breached their duties by serving an underage customer.
To prevail, Nunez need only prove negligence. Matthew Perkins, the attorney for one bar being sued, said the ruling ”leaves the door open for adult, but underage, drinkers to hold the commercial establishments responsible for their own illegal actions.” Nunez’s attorney, Richard Clayman, said Massachusetts law has an appropriately ”paternalistic” view of people under the age of 21 when it comes to alcohol, and Gants’s ruling recognized that. Nunez ”was drunk because he was served, and he was knowingly served, and then he got behind the wheel, which he shouldn’t have,” Clayman said.