The family of Mallory Beach has filed a claim of wrongful death against Luther's, a bar and restaurant, and Parker's 55, a convenience store. Beach was a 19-year-old who was killed in a tragic boating accident near Parris Island. The attorney for the family stated that “the illegal sales of alcohol” is the foundation of the lawsuit. Beach and her friends first purchased alcohol at Parkers 55, although all members of the group were under the age of 21. The group later boarded a boat and went to Luther's where the establishment served them alcohol as well.
Later in the evening, Beach and her friends were operating the boat when it crashed. Beach was propelled overboard from the force of the collision and she was unaccounted for. Five other individuals aboard the boat were injured. The Port Royal Police responded to the scene and stated that the group was “grossly intoxicated” due to alcohol consumption. Mallory's body was found several days later near Broad River Landing. An autopsy was performed at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston and the coroner reported that the cause of death was “blunt force trauma” and drowning.
A spokesman for Parker's explained that they take underage consumption of alcohol “very seriously” and have procedures and policies in place to ask those purchasing alcoholic beverages for proper identification. The statement went further to explain that they use “mystery shoppers” to confirm that the store's staff is asking shoppers for identification. Phillip Beach, Mallory's father, explained that he hopes this incident will serve as a reminder of the importance of responsible alcohol consumption.
Relatives said that several hundred people had been involved in the search efforts since the accident. Many walked the shoreline and others used boats and kayaks to inspect the area. Family members extended thanks to the many volunteers and those who contributed significantly for fuel and supplies. Beach has attended Wade Hampton High School and graduated in 2017.
Dram Shop Law
Up until last year, the South Carolina statutes did not address what is referred to as “dram shop” liability. Many U.S. states have had laws in place for years that allow for bringing a civil lawsuit against establishments that sell and serve alcohol. Last year, lawmakers implemented a requirement that all places that serve alcoholic beverages must maintain $1 million in liability insurance coverage. Many local restaurant and bar owners said that they had already been maintaining liability insurance long before the law required it.
The new law requires that those who recognize that a patron is intoxicated do not serve them any further drinks. While most residents feel that the new measures are in the best interest of public safety, some bar owners expressed concern regarding the cost of liability insurance coverage. Many of the problems that have occurred in the past involved intoxicated patrons who attempt to drive home and cause injuries and fatalities. Bartenders and management are encouraged to call a taxi or ride-sharing service to safely transport those who have had too much to drink.