The Wedding Crasher: Women Sues Bride’s Brother and Hyatt for Fall at Wedding

200px-Wedding_crashers_posterThanks to one of my torts students, we have another interesting “dram shop” case. In New Jersey, Christine Mancision has filed a lawsuit after she was hurt by the drunken brother of the bride, Mary Graeber, at a wedding. James Graeber apparently is well named. He grabbed Mancision on the dance floor and ultimately knocked her down, causing her to break her wrist and requiring the insertion of a metal plate to reconstruct the wrist. However, she is not just suing Graeber but Hyatt Hotels Corp. for another $1 million in damages under New Jersey’s “dram shop” law.

Mancision, 27, was attending the wedding with her boyfriend, Brett Henige, who was invited to the wedding by his boss, groom Chris Beley. Brett immediately fingered James, who apparently was also a standout at the bachelor party as well.

HyattHer claim against the brother is a simple battery count. It is the hotel claim that makes this one interesting. Hotels do fall under dram shop laws and she is alleging that the brother was visibly intoxicated but continued to be served alcohol. As we have seen with dram shop cases at stadiums (here), these are difficult cases for businesses. Weddings are very chaotic and fluid events. There is wine usually at the tables and an open bar. Hotels do not want to be an overriding or broodish presence at such functions by cutting off family members. More importantly, even if the bartender cuts off the bride’s brother, he can usually obtain the booze from the tables or friends.

Mancision’s lawyer does not see it that way. Kyle Watters objects, “I think the Hyatt owes an obligation to its guests . . . to not fuel the fire of intoxication by pouring alcohol down the throat of an intoxicated patron.”

This will be an interesting one to watch.

However, this week, Rev. Sun Myung Moon once again showed how “efficiency in numbers” applies to weddings and how to hold thousands of injury free event weddings at one time, here.

For the full story, click here.

6 thoughts on “The Wedding Crasher: Women Sues Bride’s Brother and Hyatt for Fall at Wedding”

  1. While usually I am all too willing to stick it to corporations, in this case I think Hyatt’s greatest error was having “deep pockets.” Most large weddings I’ve attended and I come from a very large family, had either two bars going, or at least two to three bartenders. Then to as JT mentions in the article there is plenty of alcohol, like wine and champagne circulating, to make it impossible to monitor drunkenness. Also as mentioned the reticence of catering staff to interfere with the proceeding that usually become more raucous as the affair progresses. To me it is almost impossible, based on the facts presented here, to hold Hyatt liable.

    As for her assumption of risk that too seems a real stretch. One doesn’t go to wedding expecting to have to be hyper alert for possible dangers posed by drunken boors. So there to me would seem to be a case to be made against James Graeber, but I’ll bet he’s doesn’t have deep pockets. Also wouldn’t the people who planned and paid for the wedding have some liability, especially because Graeber was closely known to them?

    Now it gets sticky, since her boyfriend’s boss is the groom and he, his bride or their parents are in the class of those who are potentially liable. How is that working out is more interesting to me than the case. I’d love to be a fly on some of those walls. My suspicious side wonders if she and her boyfriend are still together?

    Accidents happen and many times are caused by stupid people.
    Given what occurred couldn’t we go further and say Graeber was guilty of a criminal assault. How far does this get taken? If I was a lawyer I could argue either version depending on whose cause I was championing, but as a potential juror I’d let Hyatt off the hook and then try to judge any facts not herein presented.

  2. I think that the most risk that she could be asked to assume in this case is that maybe someone could puke on her shoes. I doubt she had reason to suspect that another guest would literally be ‘falling down drunk’ and certainly no reason to suspect that someone would grab her arm on the dance floor, spin her around, and throw her violently to the ground, an act which resulted in an injury requiring reconstructive surgery and painful physical therapy. Now certainly Hyatt didn’t hold him down and pour the alcohol down his throat but certainly they did contribute by continuing to serve an already intoxicated individual. To say that she assumed liability just by attending is to say that the bar would not be responsible for an intoxicated patron who ran over someone in the parking lot because “You came to the bar, you should have known that there would have been drunk people here, you took the risk that one of them might drive.” Certainly a greater likelihood of drunkards than most weddings I’ve attended. This is not a simple case which is precisely why it is being litigated in the first place.

  3. This (and a limited budget) is why the only booze at my reception was either part of the toast, or transported in via pocket flask.

  4. A little different than getting hit by a drunk driver. She went to the wedding and saw people were drinking. Any reasonable person would realize there is an inherent risk being around people who are drinking, but instead of leaving, she decided to remain and accept that risk.

  5. Suck it up wedding woman, she’s probably a drama queen that is pissed that she is always a brides maid and never the bride.

    How can the hotel control a person who is going to get drunk at a wedding without incurring the wrath of the host? This was after all the Hyatt. It is unfortunate but drunks at weddings do happen. Get over it.

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