Court Deems Dram Notice Need Not Name Liquor License Holder

Posted on: February 6th, 2020

Hollingshead claims he was injured during an incident at Misfits, a bar in Des Moines.  Following this alleged injury, Hollingshead’s counsel sent notice pursuant to § 123.93 to Founders Insurance Company.  The Notice named the holder of the liquor license as “Leonard LLC D/B/A Misfits.”  The liquor license holder was DC Misfits, LLC, not Leonard LLC D/B/A Misfits.  Although Leonard LLC D/B/A Misfits previously held this license.

Under Iowa Code § 123.93, persons who intend to bring claims under Iowa’s Dramshop law must provide Notice of the intent to bring a claim to the liquor license holder within six months of the alleged injury.  The factual record illustrated that Leonard LLC D/B/A Misfits previously owned this license and was operated by Daniel Leonard.  This LLC was administratively dissolved in 2015 – two years prior to suit and a year prior to the serving of Notice.  The current license holder, DC Misfits, was organized in early 2015 and owned by Ricky Folkerts.  Based on this record, the District Court granted summary judgment and held that this Notice failed to comply with Dramshop notice law.  The Court of Appeal affirmed the District Court.

In reversing the District Court and Court of Appeals’ holding, the Supreme Court noted that “although the name of the liquor license holder in the notice was incorrect, the bar operated under the name Misfits.”  The Supreme Court also noted that the Notice was provided to the correct insurance carrier and “it did name the bar as Misfits.”  Therefore, the Supreme Court held that this Notice substantially complied with § 123.93 such that the insurance carrier could investigate the claim while facts were still fresh.

Hollingshead v. DC Misfits, LLC, No. 18-1225, — N.W.2d —, 2020 WL 250528 (Iowa Jan. 17, 2020).

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