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Florida Appeal court announces ruling in civil case against Potbelly’s

Appeal court ruled in favor of Tallahassee bar
FL Court Of Appeals
Posted at 3:32 PM, Feb 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-14 15:32:33-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Florida’s First District Court of Appeal released a ruling Wednesday, Feb. 9 on an appeal by Main Street Entertainment, Inc., which does business as Potbelly’s.

According to court documents, Potbelly’s appealed a 2019 Leon County Circuit Court decision against them that awarded the Guardianship of Jacquelyn Anne Faircloth.

In 2019, a circuit court ruled Faircloth eligible to receive a $28.6 million judgement that was to be jointly paid by Potbelly’s and the now defunct Cantina 101 and Restaurant and Tequila Bar for a hit-and-run accident that occurred on West Pensacola Street in November 2014.

Potbelly’s was found liable for providing alcohol to an underage employee; 20-year-old Devon Dwyer.

Potbelly’s appeal was heard by a three-judge panel.

By a 2-1 decision, the appeal court ruled Wednesday that Potbelly’s was not allowed to use the “comparative fault defense” and an “alcohol defense” during the circuit court proceedings.

The decision by the appeal court may lead to a reduction of the multimillion-dollar judgement against Potbelly’s.

The majority opinion by the appeal court noted, "Neither defense would reduce or bar the Guardianship’s recovery where Cantina 101 is found liable for Faircloth’s contribution, but it may reduce Potbelly’s. On remand the jury should consider whether and by what percentage Faircloth’s negligence contributed to the accident, whether such negligence was the result of intoxication, and whether such fault is chargeable to Cantina 101 because of its willful and unlawful conduct."

While walking back to a dorm room around 2 a.m., Faircloth was struck by a truck going 55 miles-per-hour in a 30 miles-per-hour limit zone on West Pensacola Street.

The truck was driven by Dwyer, who fled the scene after the collision.

According to appeal court documents, the incident with the truck left Faircloth with catastrophic injuries.

Faircloth, who was 18 years old at the time of the incident, was under the influence of alcohol that was served to her at Cantina 101.

Cantina 101 was found liable for serving alcohol to an underage Faircloth.

The legal age to drink alcohol in the state of Florida is 21 years old.

According to Leon County court documents, Dwyer was charged with leaving the scene of a crash involving serious injury.

In June 2016, Dwyer pled no contest and was adjudicated guilty. He was sentenced to 30 months in state prison and placed on eight years of probation.