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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 36

Civil Damage Section

Civil Damage Section.

Section 28, act of 1857, provides that any "person who shall sell strong or spirituous liquors or wines to any individual to whom it is declared by this act unlawful to make such sale, shall be liable for all damages sustained in consequence of such sale; and the parties so offending may be sued in any court of this State by any individual sustaining such injuries, or by the overseer of the poor of the town where the injured party resides, and the sum recovered shall be for the benefit of the party injured."

This most important enactment, after having stood on the statute-book fifteen years, unused and almost unknown, is now supplemented, or in effect superseded, by a Civil Damage Act, passed at the closing of the last Legislature. This is an almost literal transcript of what is popularly known as "The Adair Law" of Ohio; and it may be well page 6 questioned whether any other enactment of so much real value to the whole people of New York as this could have been given. This new law we append in full on another page. The constitutionality of this law has been tested and affirmed.

Note.—Several legal questions respecting this act (especially its second section) will probably come before the courts; as—
1.That the rights of lessee or tenant, where lease was made before the passage of this act, cannot be affected by it.
2.That offenders who are tried by one or more justices must have right to a jury if they so elect
3.That property-holders who have rented buildings for drinking-houses before this Civil Damage Act cannot be held jointly responsible with the offender for damages caused by their selling. It is to be remarked, however, that, just before adjournment, the Legislature passed another act "defining some of the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants" [also appended in full], in which the use of any part of a rented building for "any illegal trade, manufacture, or other business," renders previous lease invalid, and enables the landlord at once to resume possession, etc. This will increase the liabilities of property-holders, but does not, after all, free such cases from judicial complication and uncertainty.