by Emily Kaplan*
In this Contribution, Emily Kaplan (’21) addresses the propriety of summary judgment when a casino patron raises a voluntary intoxication defense to contracting. Courts around the country recognize the voluntary intoxication defense in a casino context, which requires the casino patron to prove his and the casino employees’ states of mind. In general, summary judgment is typically not appropriate in cases involving state of mind because whether a party had the requisite state of mind will be a question of fact. This has even more weight in the voluntary intoxication context, where a court will rarely be able to decide as a matter of law whether a casino patron was sufficiently intoxicated to render the patron unable to understand the nature and consequences of his action, or whether the casino knew or had reason to know of that intoxication. Both determinations are required to prevail on a voluntary intoxication defense. Moreover, it would be a poor policy choice to allow casinos to profit off of their overly intoxicated patrons. This article does not address the propriety of allowing a voluntary intoxication defense in the casino context, but as long as the defense is recognized, it cannot be merely illusory; patrons must have the ability to prevail, at least to trial. Therefore, casinos should generally not be able to use summary judgment as a tool to profit off of intoxicated casino patrons.