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Florida Jury Awards $5.6 MM For Alcohol-Fueled Pool Party Injury

Preston Rideout

By Preston Rideout

Mar 3, 2023

A Florida jury awards $5.6 million for a spinal cord injury sustained during an alcohol-fueled pool party at the Retreat in Gainesville. According to the Complaint, the Defendant, Retreat at Gainesville, LLC, hosted a St. Patrick’s Day event and provided free beer at the Retreat on March 17, 2017. Promotional materials for the event encouraged attendees to bring their beer and did not mention any age restrictions.

Upon arriving at the pool, no one asked Massey for identification. Although underage, retreat employees welcomed him to the event by encouraging him to consume beer from unmanned kegs around the pool.

Witnesses testified that underage drinking was common at The Retreat Gainesville pool parties. Despite warnings to management by a community ambassador, nothing was done to control or monitor underage drinking during the pool parties. Testimony revealed employee focus was limited to prohibiting glass in the pool area rather than curtailing underage drinking.

Massey sued University Chevron, the Retreat at Gainesville, and Top Tier Entertainment. Ultimately, Top Tier Entertainment was released from the case via summary judgment before trial.

Massey’s counsel initially made a social host liability claim against the Retreat. However, the judge ruled the social host liability law did not apply because the pool area was not considered residential premises.

Massey’s counsel argued that the Retreat provided alcohol to Massey, a minor, without checking for identification. Counsel argued the Retreat created an environment that encouraged guests to drink. To support this argument, counsel presented promotional materials and videos that the Retreat filmed during previous parties on the premises depicting wild free-for-alls.

Massey’s counsel argued inadequate supervision was lacking at the party. Counsel claimed the retreat knew there were drunk people near the swimming pool and should have hired a lifeguard to patrol the area.

Massey’s counsel retained Dram Shop Expert Preston Rideout to opine on pool party operations, responsible alcohol service, and security risk management techniques to prevent alcohol-related pool party injuries.

The jury found University Chevron, Retreat at Gainesville, and Massey himself were all responsible for Massey’s injuries assigning 20% liability to the Retreat, 30% to University Chevron, and 50% to Massey.

If you or someone you know is the victim of an alcohol-related personal injury, please have an attorney Contact Cayuga Hospitality to retain one of our elite operators to provide expert witness testimony on your behalf.

About the author

Preston Rideout

Preston Rideout is a highly sought-after Dram Shop Expert with 25 years of experience and 75 alcohol safety certifications.  He is the CEO of Rideout Hospitality and Founder of The Dram Shop Experts. Preston is widely considered the leading nightclub management and bar operations expert in the legal industry. Attorneys across the nation rely upon his comprehensive knowledge of nightlife to provide powerful insight into all aspects of responsible alcohol service, bartender training, bottle service, intoxication identificationindustry-standard operations, and nightclub negligence.

After graduating from the University of Mississippi, Preston Rideout relocated to Las Vegas to work for Pure Management Group. While in Vegas, Preston operated Coyote Ugly Saloon, Tangerine Nightclub, Pure Nightclub, Pussy Cat Doll Lounge, LAX Nightclub, Noir Bar, Audigier Nightclub, Eve Nightclub, and Rehab Pool Party inside the Hard Rock Hotel Casino, Treasure Island Hotel, Ceasar’s Palace Hotel Casino, Luxor Casino, and Aria at City Center. After opening and operating multi-story high-volume nightclubs in world-class casinos, Preston launched Rideout Hospitality Consulting.

As CEO of Rideout Hospitality, Preston and his team of consultants provide casino, hotel, resort, restaurant, nightclub, and bar consulting to over 100 clients across the United States, Mexico, and the Bahamas. Clients retain Rideout Hospitality to codify alcohol service policies, create standard operating procedures, and conduct bartender training. Additional services include concept development, construction, bar design, equipment selection, restaurant rescue, bar audits, cocktail creation, and on-site management participation. After successfully positioning Rideout Hospitality, Preston began providing Dram Shop Expert Witness Testimony.

Preston Rideout launched the Dram Shop Experts to provide comprehensive insight into Customer Intoxication Identification, Bartender Training, Responsible Alcohol Service, Industry Standard Operating Procedures, Bottle Service, Nightclub Negligence, Mechanical Bull Operations, Pool Party Injuries, Music Festival Safety, Mass Shooting Emergencies, and Security Use of Force.


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