Grieving father loses ruling on law protecting taverns

April 08, 1993

A state appeals court has denied a Laurel man's request that it overturn a law that protects taverns from civil lawsuits over the actions of their intoxicated customers.

Howard Duncan, whose son died in a 1989 car accident after leaving an Anne Arundel County tavern where he'd been drinking, asked the court in March to overturn the law.

Mr. Duncan in 1991 sued the Happy Harbor Inn in Deale and its owner, Levi Thomas Wellons 3rd, claiming that employees continued to serve his son even though he was obviously intoxicated. He asked for $13 million in damages. The county Circuit Court dismissed the suit, citing the state law.

Mr. Duncan said he plans to appeal the ruling to the Court of Appeals, the state's highest court.

The plaintiff's 24-year-old son, Kevin Duncan, died 13 days after a car accident shortly after leaving the tavern.

Maryland is one of five states in the country where taverns are protected from civil lawsuits over the actions of drunken customers.

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