Bartenders beware: The question of whether Uptown Tavern patrons were overserved after once being banned from the bar could have legal ramifications.
Under the state's "dram shop liability" laws, bars and bartenders who "overserve" a patron, knowing that they are intoxicated, could face lawsuits if that patron later harms themself or others.
"Indiana's Dram Shop Act statutorily allows for civil liability in certain situations when one furnishes alcohol to another who then causes an injury due to their intoxication," per the 1999 case of Delta Tau Delta, Beta Alpha Chapter v. Johnson.
The measure, similar to those passed in 37 other states, is a legislative push which holds those who serve or furnish alcohol responsible for the acts of others and can result in civil suits under Indiana Code 7.1-5-10-15 and 7.1-5-10-15.5.
Typically, those suits arise over drunken driving deaths or injuries. However, past lawsuits have also been filed over fights which broke out or deaths which occurred after patrons had been drinking and left the bar.
For example, the 1993 death of Teresa Hall in Terre Haute led to a lawsuit against the Hyway Tavern, now closed.
A more recent death where a patron was allegedly run down by an intoxicated driver after leaving 6th Avenue Bar has led to lawsuits against that club as well as TGI Fridays in the same city.
Civil liability, notably, only arises when someone provides alcohol to another who is visibly drunk and that person then causes harm.