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Valet’s Responsibility To A Would-Be Drunk Driver

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(File photo.  Credit: Joe Raedle/ Getty Images)

(File photo. Credit: Joe Raedle/ Getty Images)

feldman_amy Amy Feldman
Amy E. Feldman is a business commentator and legal business...
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By Amy E. Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - A bartender can’t hand keys to a drunk. But what about a valet?

Richard Morenko had spent the day at the Mohegan Sun Casino in August of 2011 drinking, according to the reports, “copious” amounts of alcohol. He then went to the valet stand, was handed his keys, drove drunk and died in a car crash. His mother sued the casino, arguing that the valet was legally obligated not to hand over the keys to someone who is visibly drunk.

There are laws that make bars and bartenders legally responsible if they let an intoxicated customer drive away. And that law is based on the idea that a bar that makes money from customers’ alcohol purchases would have no incentive to stop serving if there weren’t a law making the bar responsible for the consequences. But, the court was asked to decide if a valet parker has the same legal responsibility. And the answer, according to the court, is no.

That said, if you’re a valet parker, think about the moral obligation of handing keys to a drunk even if there aren’t legal consequences. And, if you’re the one with a couple of drinks in his system and a set of keys in your hand, remember that ultimately, you will pay for the accident you cause.

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