Missouri Revised Statutes

Chapter 537
Torts and Actions for Damages
Section 537.053

August 28, 2014


Sale of alcoholic beverage may be proximate cause of personal injuries or death--requirements--(dram shop law).

537.053. 1. Since the repeal of the Missouri Dram Shop Act in 1934 (Laws of 1933-34, extra session, page 77), it has been and continues to be the policy of this state to follow the common law of England, as declared in section 1.010, to prohibit dram shop liability and to follow the common law rule that furnishing alcoholic beverages is not the proximate cause of injuries inflicted by intoxicated persons.

2. Notwithstanding subsection 1 of this section, a cause of action may be brought by or on behalf of any person who has suffered personal injury or death against any person licensed to sell intoxicating liquor by the drink for consumption on the premises when it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that the seller knew or should have known that intoxicating liquor was served to a person under the age of twenty-one years or knowingly served intoxicating liquor to a visibly intoxicated person.

3. For purposes of this section, a person is "visibly intoxicated" when inebriated to such an extent that the impairment is shown by significantly uncoordinated physical action or significant physical dysfunction. A person's blood alcohol content does not constitute prima facie evidence to establish that a person is visibly intoxicated within the meaning of this section, but may be admissible as relevant evidence of the person's intoxication.

4. Nothing in this section shall be interpreted to provide a right of recovery to a person who suffers injury or death proximately caused by the person's voluntary intoxication unless the person is under the age of twenty-one years. No person over the age of twenty-one years or their dependents, personal representative, and heirs may assert a claim for damages for personal injury or death against a seller of intoxicating liquor by the drink for consumption on the premises arising out of the person's voluntary intoxication.

5. In an action brought pursuant to subsection 2 of this section alleging the sale of intoxicating liquor by the drink for consumption on the premises to a person under the age of twenty-one years, proof that the seller or the seller's agent or employee demanded and was shown a driver's license or official state or federal personal identification card, appearing to be genuine and showing that the minor was at least twenty-one years of age, shall be relevant in determining the relative fault of the seller or seller's agent or employee in the action.

6. No employer may discharge his or her employee for refusing service to a visibly intoxicated person.

(L. 1985 S.B. 345 ยง 1, A.L. 2002 H.B. 1532)

(2000) Provisions of Missouri's dram shop law that impose liability only upon conviction of sale of liquor to a person under age or to an obviously intoxicated person are an unconstitutional violation of the state's open courts provision, Missouri Constitution Article I, Section 14, because access to the courts is conditioned upon a prosecutor's decision to bring the case. Kilmer v. Mun, 17 S.W.3d 545 (Mo.banc).

(2002) Kilmer v. Mun decision applies retrospectively. Piskorski v. Larice, 70 S.W.3d 573 (Mo.App.E.D.).

(2006) Dram shop act is constitutional under open courts clause and equal protection clause. Snodgrass v. Martin & Bayley, Inc., 204 S.W.3d 638 (Mo.banc).


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