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Anslinger v. Martinsville Inn Inc.

Decided: December 11, 1972.

DOROTHY ANSLINGER, ADMINISTRATRIX AD PROSEQUENDUM OF THE ESTATE OF ALFRED ANSLINGER, AND DOROTHY ANSLINGER, ADMINISTRATRIX OF THE ESTATE OF ALFRED ANSLINGER, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
MARTINSVILLE INN, INC., A NEW JERSEY CORPORATION; FRANK L. GRIER II, MCLEAN TRUCKING COMPANY, A FOREIGN CORPORATION DOING BUSINESS IN NEW JERSEY, AND CHESAPEAKE & OHIO RAILROAD CO., A FOREIGN CORPORATION DOING BUSINESS IN NEW JERSEY AND T/A CABOOSE CLUB, DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS



Lewis, Carton and Mintz. The opinion of the court was delivered by Carton, J.A.D.

Carton

The administratrix ad prosequendum of the estate of Alfred Anslinger appeals from a judgment of involuntary dismissal granted at the close of her case against the various defendants. Defendants are Martinsville Inn, which operates an establishment under that name at which decedent attended a dinner meeting of the Raritan Valley Traffic Club on the night he died; McLean Trucking Company, whose employees and guests occupied a table at that meeting; Grier, one of McLean's salesmen, and Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad Company, t/a Caboose Club.

Plaintiff's proofs were to the following effect: Anslinger was killed on the night of October 9, 1969 when the automobile he was driving ran into the rear of a truck. Earlier that evening he had attended the dinner meeting at the Inn as a guest of McLean. Anslinger was traffic manager for Carter-Wallace, a concern which did a considerable business with McLean.

Anslinger arrived at the Inn about 6:30 P.M. and sat at the table reserved for McLean's employees and their guests.

In accordance with its usual practice for affairs of this kind, the Inn served full bottles of liquor with setups at each of the tables and the guests helped themselves. Three bottles of liquor were purchased for the McLean table at which there were three McLean employees and seven guests.

There was an open bar from 6 to 7 P.M. Dinner was served shortly afterwards.

There was proof that Anslinger had three or four drinks at the table before 10 P.M. and, according to one witness, had had too much to drink by that time. There was proof indicating also that Anslinger had been table-hopping and had other drinks. At about 11 P.M. defendant Grier noticed that Anslinger appeared to be "tight." By that Grier meant that Anslinger was rational, slurring his words, but not incoherently, although obviously he had been drinking.

Anslinger invited Grier to go to the "Caboose Club," an informal association of railroad traffic representatives formed for the purpose of jointly entertaining business contacts. The club was meeting that night at the Red Bull Inn, some five miles away. Grier accepted the invitation because Anslinger was a good customer and because he felt somebody ought to stay with him.

Anslinger and Grier left the Martinsville Inn around 11:30 or midnight. In answer to interrogatories, the Martinsville Inn said that an employee at the door observed all the departing guests and saw "no outward observations of anyone being intoxicated."

Anslinger backed into another car in the parking lot and Grier suggested he leave a note. Anslinger refused and pulled away. Grier followed him to the Red Bull.

There was more to drink at the Caboose Club, which met in a separate suite at the Red Bull. Anslinger continued to imbibe. James Mitchell, a sales representative of defendant Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad Co., described Anslinger's condition there as "bombed." Anslinger became belligerent at the gathering and said he was going ...


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