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Woodhurst v. Driftwood, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

January 10, 2018

SHELDON WOODHURST and CARLA WOODHURST, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
DRIFTWOOD, INCORPORATED, a Corporation, d/b/a DRIFTWOOD BAR AND GRILL, Defendant-Appellee.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Jackson County, Nancy S. Tabor, Judge.

         Sheldon and Carla Woodhurst appeal the order granting summary judgment in favor of Driftwood Bar and Grill on their dramshop-liability claim.

          David M. Pillers of Pillers & Richmond, DeWitt, for appellants.

          Thomas Henderson and S. Luke Craven of Whitfield & Eddy, P.L.C., Des Moines, for appellees.

          Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Doyle and Mullins, JJ. Tabor, J., takes no part.

          DOYLE, JUDGE.

         Sheldon and Carla Woodhurst appeal the order granting summary judgment in favor of the Driftwood Bar and Grill (Driftwood) on their dramshop-liability claim, which stems from an incident where David Zabransky shot Sheldon Woodhurst. Zabransky, who had been served liquor at the Driftwood on the night of the shooting, was intoxicated when he shot Sheldon Woodhurst. The Woodhursts claim summary judgment is improper because a fact question exists concerning whether Driftwood employees knew or should have known Zabransky was or would become intoxicated when they served him liquor. Because their argument hinges on a legal inference that is not warranted under the facts of this case, we affirm the grant of summary judgment in favor of the Driftwood.

         I. Background Facts.

         The district court found the following facts were undisputed concerning Zabransky's actions on the night in question:

[Zabransky] and his friend Robert Hochbaum had been duck hunting during the day. At approximately 6 p.m. the two men began drinking first at a private home in Fulton, Illinois. [Zabransky] consumed about three (3) twelve (12) ounce beers there. The men then moved to Manny's Pizzeria in Savanna, Illinois, where Zabransky drank approximately two (2) more beers. Then at about 9:40 p.m. the two went to a private party at the home of Devon Strissel In Illinois. They stayed there until approximately 11:30 p.m. The two then traveled to Iowa and entered the [Driftwood] . . . at approximately midnight. [Zabransky] was served at least one beer there that he paid for and may have drank an additional beer that his friend bought for him. Then, at approximately 12:45 p.m., the two left the Driftwood and went to the Lucky 7 bar . . . . [Zabransky] was served at least one (1) beer at the Lucky 7.

         The district court found that Zabransky and Hochbaum arrived at Lucky 7 close to 1:00 a.m. While there, Hochbaum engaged in an argument with Sheldon Woodhurst's brother, Steven. After the men left, the argument resumed across the street from the bar, and Zabransky shot Sheldon in the stomach. A test administered at 2:15 a.m. showed Zabransky's blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was 181 mg/dl. A test administered at 4:25 a.m. showed his BAC was 124 mg/dl.

         The Woodhursts filed a petition alleging assault and battery against Zabransky. They also alleged dramshop liability against the Driftwood.[1] The Driftwood moved for summary judgment, which the district court granted.

         After a jury trial, the court entered judgment in favor of the Woodhursts on their assault and battery claims against Zabransky. The Woodhursts then appealed the order granting summary judgment in favor of the Driftwood.

         II. Scope and ...


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