Is Steve Cohen Responsible for GM’s DUI Arrest After Leaving Cohen’s House?
News today from ESPN’s Jeff Passan claims that “On the night of New York Mets GM Zack Scott was arrested for allegedly driving drunk, he was at the Connecticut home of team owner Steve Cohen, sources tell ESPN.” A fundraiser for the team’s Amazin’ Mets Foundation was being held at the house, and Scott and players were reportedly present there. Passan reports that the fundraiser reportedly ended around 8:30/9pm and the DUI arrest occurred 7 hours later. So the question is, would Cohen & the team be responsible at all?
It’s interesting. On the one hand, Connecticut has Dram shop laws where businesses who sell or social hosts who give alcohol to others can actually be held liable if they serve someone who is noticeably drunk and then that person drives drunk and injures someone else.
For business owners, the dram shop laws require more than just mere negligence to be convicted. The business must recklessly and intentionally continue to give someone alcohol knowing they are drunk in order for there to be a case and it’s hard to prove. When it comes to social hosts, the dram shop laws only apply when they provide alcohol to minors. So, in short, as a social host Cohen would bear no liability if he served Scott alcohol knowing he was drunk and/or failed to stop him from driving after leaving the fundraiser.
However, Cohen is also Scott’s boss and as owner of the Mets, he was holding a function for the organization. Thus, one could argue that Scott was at a work event and may have gotten drunk and left the fundraiser drunk. Technically, employers can be liable for the wrongful or illegal acts of their employees when those acts occur during work or in the scope of employment. Cohen has a duty to supervise Scott as well. To prove Cohen’s liability as employer there would need to be a showing that Scott actually left the event drunk. It’s possible Scott drank after the event or had a small amount of alcohol and increased it after he left. Also, 7 hours passed before he was arrested for DUI so technically one could say, Scott was no longer within his scope of employment. He may have stopped other places and did other things in between and was off the clock, in other words, he wasn’t headed somewhere for work or to perform a work duty. Furthermore, employer liability usually only would come into play on the civil side if someone was injured or there were damages. Scott was found in White Plains, far from Cohen’s Connecticut home, sleeping in his car.
The long and short of it is Cohen probably bears no liability here and luckily no one was hurt. Therefore, the news that he left a fundraiser then got arrested seven hours later is pretty much not news or relevant from a legal standpoint. But, from a team culture standpoint, something should be done to hold Scott responsible since he could have killed someone and the team should get him the help he needs.