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Bernhard v. Harrah’s Club

Supreme Court of California
546 P.2d 719 (1976)


Harrah’s Club (Harrah’s) (defendant), a Nevada gambling and drinking establishment, regularly advertised to and solicited California residents. Two such residents, Fern and Philip Myers, drove to Harrah’s on July 24, 1971. The Myers were given numerous alcoholic beverages by employees of Harrah’s, even after it was clear that they were too inebriated to drive. The Myers left Harrah’s in the early morning hours of July 25, 1971. While driving near Nevada City, California, Fern collided with a motorcyclist, Richard Bernhard (plaintiff), who was severely injured. He sued Harrah’s in a California state court on the grounds that its negligence in continuing to serve the Myers alcohol was the proximate cause of Bernhard’s injuries. Harrah’s filed a demurrer on the grounds that Nevada law applied and that under Nevada law, tavern owners did not bear civil liability for injuries caused by their intoxicated patrons. The trial court agreed with Harrah’s and dismissed the case. Bernhard appealed.

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