Negligence – Proximate Cause – Liability of Tavern-Keeper to Third Person Injured by One to Whom Tavern-Keeper Had Made and Unlawful Sale of Liquor

In a jurisdiction having a statute prohibiting sales of liquor to minors and persons actually or apparently intoxicated, defendants, four tavern-keepers, served alcoholic beverages to an eighteen-year-old minor. Fifteen or twenty minutes after leaving the last of the taverns, the intoxicated minor negligently drove a motor vehicle and collided with plaintiff’s car, killing plaintiff’s husband. Plaintiff brought this action as representative of her husband’s estate and as owner of the damaged car. Her complaint charged not only that defendants unlawfully and negligently sold and served alcoholic beverages to a minor under circumstances constituting notice that he was a minor, but also that the sale and service by one or more of the defendants was at a time when the minor’s intoxicated condition was apparent. The trial court granted defendants a summary judgment on the ground that the complaint failed to state a cause of action. On certification directly to the Supreme Court, held, reversed. Plaintiff’s complaint states a cause of action in negligence. Rappaport v. Nichols, 31 N.J. 188, 156 A. (2d) 1 (1959).