State's high court rules stores liable for selling gas to drunks

State's high court rules stores liable for selling gas to drunks

August 22, 2005

KNOXVILLE (AP) -- The state Supreme Court has ruled that store owners can be sued for causing injuries in a drunken driving accident if they sold gas to an intoxicated driver.

The court ruled in a lawsuit filed by two men who were severely injured in 2000 when they were struck head-on by Brian Lee Tarver, who later pleaded guilty to vehicular assault and driving under the influence.

Before the accident, Tarver bought gas at an Exxon owned by East Tennessee Pioneer Oil Company.

A Knox County judge had dismissed the lawsuit, but the Supreme Court disagreed and sent the case back to Knox County for trial.

The lawsuit, filed by Gary L. West and Michell B. Richardson, alleged the gas station employees knew Tarver was drunk and that Tarver's car would not have reached the location of the crash if he had not been allowed to buy gas.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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