By Annette Shailer
A Tasmanian woman has successfully sued the hotel where her husband was drinking before he was killed in a drink-driving accident.
In what could set a major legal precedent for drink-driving charges, the full bench of Hobart’s Supreme Court ruled the hotel and then-licensee Michael Andrew Kirpatrick owed a duty of care to the victim to prevent him driving while intoxicated.
Shane Scott was drinking at the Tandara Motor Inn at Triabunna on Tasmania’s east coast on January 24, 2002, before leaving on his motorbike after consuming up to eight cans of Jack Daniel’s and Cola.
At the time of his death, Scott had a blood-alcohol reading of more than five times the legal limit.
Scott had earlier given his keys to licensee Kirkpatrick and his motorbike had been wheeled into the hotel storeroom.
Later that night, Scott asked for the keys back, maneuvered his bike out of the storeroom and drove away.
Scott crashed on his way home and died almost immediately.
Hobart’s Supreme Court ruled that the hotel and Kirkpatrick had a duty of care to stop Scott from leaving the hotel and getting onto his bike while intoxicated.
A later hearing will determine the level of damages to which his widow Sandra Scott is entitled.
In what is thought to be a first for Australia today’s case overturned a 2007 ruling when the Supreme Court dismissed Sandra Scott’s original lawsuit.
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