Shane Montgomery, originally from Roxborough, was 21-years-old and attending West Chester University when he drowned in the Schuylkill River canal. The incident occurred on the night before Thanksgiving after he left Kildare’s Irish Pub in Philadelphia’s Manayunk neighborhood.
The Garden State Underwater Recovery Unit discovered his remains after a lengthy search. It was in an area of water behind the Manayunk Brew Pub near Main Street. The family brought a civil suit, which resulted in the jury awarding the family $525,000 in damages. Kildare’s was determined to be liable because they had served him alcohol despite that he was “visibly intoxicated” at the time.
The jury acknowledged that Montgomery also shouldered some of the blame in the incident. The medical examiner found that the death appeared to be accidental. The claim asserted that the management of the bar kicked him out that night due to excessive intoxication. It went further to state that they should have confirmed Montgomery had a ride home or contacted a taxi.
Exhaustive Search Efforts
Following his disappearance, local authorities and members of the community spent weeks searching for him. Karen Montgomery, his mother, expressed thanks to all those who provided assistance. She furthered expressed a sense of closure by stating “we have brought Shane home” in a statement. According to the divers that located him, the body was roughly 10 feet away from the shore. The depth of the water where he was discovered was only a few feet; however, other areas of the river reach depths of over eight feet.
Prior to the discovery of his body, a set of Montgomery’s keys were found in the river. Surveillance footage from that night showed him walking in the direction of the water. Councilman Curtis Jones Jr. has since led local efforts to increase the number of surveillance cameras in commercial areas to enhance public safety. Local lawmakers have also encouraged businesses to increase their number of camera installations. In addition to assisting in these types of investigations, the presence of cameras often provides a deterrent to those involved in criminal activity.
Understanding Dram Shop Liability
The term “dram shop” is believed to be borrowed from those in England when liquor was sold by the dram or spoonful. It is essentially the idea that liquor establishments may be found liable in cases where those who become heavily intoxicated cause harm to others. Common law did not specifically address this; however, the U.S Supreme Court cleared the way for states to implement these laws.
Pennsylvania statute allows for those establishments with a liquor license to be liable under certain circumstances. This applies when the licensee, “or his agent, servant, or employee” serves alcoholic beverages to:
- Anyone who is a minor
- Any patron who is considered to be visibly impaired or intoxicated
- Those who are insane
- Any individual who is a “habitual drunkard” or otherwise tends to drink excessively
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