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Monday, May 27, 2024 | Back issues
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‘Habitual Drunkard’ Sues Resort Over Ouster

BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. (CN) - After being banned from a beachside resort for public intoxication, the owner of a Florida drug addiction clinic filed a lawsuit claiming the resort's staff "should have known" he was "a habitual drunkard."

In his lawsuit in Palm Beach County Court, Christopher Walsh says Boca Raton Resort and Club served him "excessive amounts of alcohol ... over a relatively short amount of time" despite his history of alcoholism.

The staff had seen Walsh drinking too much in the past, and they should have put limits on how much he could be served, he claims.

Instead, Walsh says, he drank to his heart's desire and "suffered impaired judgment and loss of self control."

Fed up with Walsh's drunken behavior, the resort terminated his club membership in October 2013, and refused to reimburse the thousands of dollars in membership fees he'd previously paid, the complaint says.

The resort purportedly banned him from the premises, accusing him of being verbally abusive to guests and staff.

It was by all accounts a sour end to Walsh's relationship with the historic hotel nestled against the Boca Raton coast.

Before Walsh's membership was voided, he and his wife Karen were commonly seen at the resort's high-profile charity events. Alongside tennis icons Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, the Walshes attended galas for the Ounce of Prevention Fund, a non-profit organization that combats child neglect and drug abuse.

The couple is known locally for co-founding Inspirations for Youth and Families, which bills itself as "one of the leading teen rehabs" in the country. They appeared on the daytime TV show "Dr. Phil" when a resident from their clinic was featured.

Both Walshes are plaintiffs in the lawsuit against Boca Raton Resort & Club. They want the resort to refund their membership fees and return several items that they say were left in their club locker at the time they were kicked out: a set of golf clubs, various clothing items, and "2 pairs [of] flip-flops," among other belongings.

The resort is operated by BRE/Baton Operating Lessee and WHM LLC, the two defendants named in the lawsuit.

In blaming the resort for Chris Walsh's intoxication, the lawsuit cites Florida's dram shop statute (section 768.125), which holds commercial establishments civilly liable for selling liquor to persons known to be addicted to alcohol. The statute is often used by drunk-driving victims to hold bars or liquor stores accountable for having sold booze to alcoholic customers who later caused tragedy on the roadway. Florida is one of thirty states to have such laws on the books, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The defendants violated the statute by "knowingly and repeatedly" serving "a habitual alcohol addict, to wit the plaintiff Christopher Walsh, excessive amounts of alcoholic beverages," the lawsuit states.

Police records indicate that Walsh's alleged drunken escapades continued after the incident at the resort. In April 2014, roughly six months after the resort booted him, he was arrested on a domestic violence charge.

Walsh's wife allegedly told police that he had gone on a binge at a South Florida Seminole Casino and shoved her upon arriving home.

According to the police report, when two female officers arrived at the couple's home, Walsh was intoxicated and spouted profanities at them, imploring them to "fuck off."

"Walsh would not get out of bed and flatulated towards Ofc. Hernandez," the report states.

His wife told police he was "out of control," according to the report.

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