in the Court of Appeals 18 September 2019.
by plaintiff from judgment and order entered 1 May 2018 and
26 July 2018, respectively, by Judge J. Thomas Davis in
Buncombe County Superior Court. No. 15 CVS 4472
R. Denton and Lucas T. Baker for plaintiff-appellant.
Aylward Sweeney & Stephenson, LLP, by Jeremy A.
Stephenson, for defendant-appellee.
Thang Trang ("Plaintiff") appeals from the trial
court's partial grant of directed verdict in favor of L J
Wings, Inc. ("Defendant"). Plaintiff also appeals
the trial court's denial of his requested jury
instructions. We find no error.
is a North Carolina corporation, which owns and operates a
Wild Wing Café franchised restaurant in Buncombe
County, North Carolina ("Café").
Defendant's franchisor established and issued policies
and procedures regarding North Carolina's dram shop laws
and alcohol practices to its franchisees and their employees,
including information to monitor and prevent customer
intoxication. Practices to prevent intoxication include the
employee offering "[f]ood high in fat and/or protein
such as . . . chicken wings" and counting the number of
drinks each customer has. "If counting drinks will not
work, then you must rely on observation to spot signs of
co-defendant, William Erickson, arrived at the Café at
about 11 a.m. on 5 August 2015. Erickson was one of the
Café's regular customers. In the following six to
seven hours, Erickson was served between thirteen-and-a-half
and fifteen-and-a-half alcoholic beverages. Two bartenders,
Anne Marie Paine and Christopher Nawrocki, served Erickson
during this period. Paine served Erickson between eleven and
thirteen beverages over roughly six hours, before her shift
ended around 5 p.m. Nawrocki replaced Paine around 5 p.m. and
served Erickson at least two beverages, and approximately
half of a third, before cutting him off.
stopped alcohol sales to Erickson because, "something
was just a little different in Bill. . . . It was just
something that made me uncomfortable, and when I'm
uncomfortable it's time to go." Nawrocki also
checked with Paine and learned Erickson had "been there
all day." Nawrocki ordered chicken wings for Erickson to
eat, and checked to make sure Erickson would not be driving
home. Nawrocki also removed a previously served, half-full
beer. Erickson ate the wings and left the Café
sometime after 6 p.m.
about 7 p.m., Erickson was driving on Interstate-26 when his
car made contact with a Honda Odyssey vehicle Plaintiff was
driving, and allegedly injured Plaintiff. Plaintiff brought
this negligence action against both Defendants. His claims
against Defendant, L J Wings, Inc., included a dram shop
claim and a negligent supervision claim as to the bar
owner's supervision of its employees, Paine and Nawrocki.
Erickson, the customer and driver, stipulated to his
negligence liability before the case was submitted to the
close of Plaintiff's evidence, Defendant moved for a
directed verdict. The trial court denied Defendant's
motion to dismiss the dram shop claim, but dismissed all of
Plaintiff's other claims, including for negligent
trial court's dismissal of the negligent supervision
claim was based upon two reasons: primarily, Plaintiff
presented insufficient evidence of incompetency or unfitness
of either Paine or Nawrocki; and, secondarily, the negligent
supervision claim served no independent purpose, as Plaintiff
would recover ...