TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — A Tallahassee bar whose former employee was involved in a vehicle incident that injured a woman is asking the Florida Supreme Court to decline reviewing a guardianship’s request that was submitted to the court.
According to an Aug. 22 filing in Florida Supreme Court by Main Street Entertainment, Inc., which is the corporation name of Potbelly's, the bar's attorneys claim that the guardianship of Jacquelyn Anne Faircloth cannot justify the Florida Supreme Court’s exercise of jurisdiction in the case.
Potbelly’s claims in its brief that the guardianship is asking for a review of a question that the Florida Supreme Court has previously answered and the Florida First District Court of Appeal has correctly ruled on.
Potbelly’s claims that the guardianship wants the court to “exercise jurisdiction based on the appearance of a conflict.”
The bar claims the guardianship “presents a new, independent question and improper argument about the alcohol defense.”
Potbelly’s says that the issues raised by the guardianship do not require review by the supreme court and requests the court to decline review.
The guardianship of Faircloth wants the Florida Supreme Court to review whether Florida’s comparative fault statute applies to tort involving the dram-shop exception contained in Florida law against a vendor who willfully and unlawfully sold alcohol to an underage patron, resulting in the patron’s intoxication and related injury.
In November 2014, Faircloth, who was age 18 at the time, was served an alcoholic beverage by Cantina 101 Restaurant and Tequila Bar, which is a defunct establishment in Tallahassee.
Faircloth was struck by a vehicle driven by Devon Dwyer, a then 20-year-old employee of Potbelly’s.
Before the incident, Dwyer had consumed alcohol beverages that were allegedly provided by his employer.
The legal age to drink alcoholic beverages in Florida is 21 years old.
The incident led to Faircloth sustaining serious injuries, while Dwyer was convicted by a Leon County criminal court for his role in the incident.
In 2019, a Leon County civil court ruled that Potbelly’s and Cantina were liable to pay portions of a nearly $29 million judgement to the guardianship of Faircloth.
Potbelly's appealed to the Florida First District Court of Appeal and in February the court ruled that Potbelly’s was denied the opportunity in the 2019 case to execute comparative fault and alcohol defenses and returned the case to the Leon County civil court.
In June, the court of appeal granted the guardianship's request for certification of a question of great public importance, which the guardianship filed with the state supreme court in July.
Also in July, Florida State University and the University of Florida filed to the supreme court a brief in support of Faircloth's guardianship; noting the universities' effort to combat underage consumption of alcoholic beverages by students on their respective campuses.