Achieving Creative Solutions to Complex Legal Problems Since 1988

A law firm is a law firm is a law firm is a law firm is a law firm — right?

If that’s how you’ve felt up until now, you might be surprised by what you’ll find at the law firm of Gillis & Bikofsky, P.C. in Newton, Massachusetts.

Liquor Liability

Michael Gillis chairs the nation Liquor Liability Litigation Group (LLLG) for the American Association for Justice (AAJ), formerly the Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA), the largest trial bar in the United States. Some of his representative cases in this area include the following:

On Thanksgiving night, in an American Veterans hall, a patron who was served too much alcohol became belligerent, got in an argument with another patron, went to his car, got a knife, came back into the bar, and stabbed and killed a G&B client. The decedent had two children, a young teenage daughter and her little brother. Suit was brought against the hall and the patron for serving too much alcohol to the patron, failing to properly supervise the bar and its patrons, and for assault and battery. During litigation, a settlement was reached with the hall, and the court awarded a judgment against the individual defendant in excess of 15 million dollars. The individual appealed, and the appeal has now ended. With interest, the settlement and judgment combined exceed 17 million dollars.

At a fundraiser for the local high school hockey team, a mother, upset upon hearing that her husband would be away at sea during Christmas due to work, drank too much. After she was shut off, she and others were then invited downstairs to a private bar at the Legion Hall where they were allowed to continue to drink at the member’s bar. She later left the members bar, and, knowing she could not drive, left her car and took a ride with her sister’s boyfriend. Unfortunately, the boyfriend had also been shut off and then allowed to drink further, should not have been driving, and subsequently struck a tree causing a head injury to the mother, who had two young boys.

Defendants tried to raise the issue of the Massachusetts Charitable Cap which limits charities to only $20,000 in damages. G&B lawyer Michael Gillis was able to prove that the funds raised by the hall at these functions were primarily commercial in nature as they paid the majority of the costs of the hall for the year. The case was subsequently settled for $800,000.00.

A deaf minor was drinking at a deaf club with a deaf adult and become intoxicated. He left the deaf bar and struck a pedestrian college student crossing the street. The college student was thrown over the vehicle and suffered substantial facial injuries. Once again, the defendants tried to limit recover to $20,000.00 citing the Massachusetts Charitable Immunity Cap. G&B attorney Michael Gillis successfully argued that the sale of alcohol at the deaf club was commercial in nature and not within the charitable purpose of the hall. The case settled for $400,000.00.

A Boston resident working in Keene, NH, was returning from work late at night. She was distraught due to personal issues she was facing, and she stopped to get a drink at a Chinese restaurant on Route 2 on the way home. The bartender, sensing that the woman was distraught, continued to server her nine strong mixed drinks hoping the alcohol would make her more friendly towards him. When it became apparent to the bartender that the female patron was not interested in him, even after the drinks, he told her she to leave. She was too intoxicated to drive, but, being far from home and no local transportation available, she attempted to make the drive. She was less than a mile from the restaurant when her vehicle left the road and she suffered spinal injuries affecting her lower body. In rare cases, Massachusetts allows bringing an action against a restaurant for injuries caused to oneself, but only upon the showing that the conduct of the bar was “willful and wanton gross negligence”. G&B attorney Michael Gillis was able to show that the conduct of the bartender met the standard, and the case was resolved for $900,000.00.

A G&B client working as a chef in Boston’s Chinatown area left work on foot and was crossing Kneeland Street when he was struck by a hit-and-run vehicle. The driver was subsequently found and charged. The client’s fist attorney collected a settlement from the operator of the vehicle but did not bring claim against the establishment where the operator had been drinking.

After extensive investigation, the operator who had divorced, moved, was not employed, and was not easily located, was found, subpoenaed, and subsequently gave testimony concerning the evening. Further discovery determined that he was in the fishing industry and was using the bar at a nearby hotel as his “office” in order to speak to vendors at the convention and buy them drinks. During the day and evening, he consumed more than ten scotches and ten red wines. Subsequently, since he left his car with the hotel valet, the hotel, when the bar closed, gave him his keys back so that he could drive his car, with which he subsequently struck the G&B client After discovery concluded, the case against the hotel resoled with a significant six figure settlement.

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