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Monday, May 2, 2016

Bartenders could face civil liability, according to state law

Thursday, September 13, 2012

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.

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Ok, maybe i missed something somewhere.

Why is this article directed at the Uptown?

I think everyone would agree, including you Mr Stalcup (who wrote this article and is also an attorney) that pretty much anyone can sue anyone in a civil court.

Why is the Uptown named specifically? I think unfortunetly, there have been several incidents at other establishments (which have been reported in this newspaper) that could also fall under this article, but yet they aren't mentioned.

Why is that?

-- Posted by Gdawg on Thu, Sep 13, 2012, at 10:37 PM

Ok, forget it. You've now posted an article or possibly your opinion i'm not sure, that was after the one i posted on.

Is this really journalism or just fanning/flaming an incident to recieve comments or attention?

Looks alot like the latter to me.

All of these incidents that you mention are/were being investigated by the law enforcement authorities.

I'm amazed that this has reached this level.

-- Posted by Gdawg on Thu, Sep 13, 2012, at 11:11 PM

It is a fact that bartenders are responsible for the amount of alcohol they serve to an intoxicated person. I know this because I was one. I have had to refuse service, many times, to patrons who are obviously intoxicated. I did so to protect the patron, the establishment where I worked, anyone who could be hurt by the patron, and myself. A bartender is the responsible one when he/she is working behind that bar. If they over-serve, they are responsible for that and anything that may occur as the result of it. The bar itself is responsible for the bartenders they employ. If they employ a bartender who does not take this responsibility seriously, they should be held accountable for their actions. So, even though the bar itself (whether it's the Uptown or any other bar), may not be directly responsiblie for over-serving, ultimately they are responsible for the bartenders they employ. Simply put, if they employ bartenders that do not take their responsibilities seriously, they need to terminate the bartender. Otherwise, they are assuming a huge liability for everything that bartender does and doesn't do. Several months ago, a friend of mine was killed after being over-served at more than one bar. Yes, he was an adult. Yes he made the choice to drink way too much. But, knowing that alcohol is, in fact, a narcotic drug that impairs judgement (and just about everything else), they lose the ability to drink responsibily. By over-serving, bartenders are contributing to whatever happens in the bar and after the patron leaves the bar. So, it's in the best interest, and sometimes a matter of life and death, that a bartender be attentive, responsible, and held accountable. Unfortunately, there are far too many bartenders who are irresponsible and in being so they are placing everyone (the patron, the bar, and innocent people) in serious, and sometimes deadly, danger. So all this talk about 'don't blame the bar' is, unfortunately, impossible. They are partly to blame via their bartenders, unless they do the right thing and refuse service to an intoxicated person. Unfortunely, it's too much "all fun and games until somebody gets hurt". Or in this case and many others, dead.

-- Posted by longfarm on Fri, Sep 14, 2012, at 3:24 AM

Finally an article about the responsibility of the bartenders. You think it might have come up with the first death. In the article it stated that a bartender saw the patron, who they had been serving, by the railroad tracks and went back into the bar. The next sentence was after they heard the train, found the man had been run over. Why would you leave a man in harm's way? Trouble is invited in, with no oversight, and this is the result.

-- Posted by minerette on Fri, Sep 14, 2012, at 7:39 AM

Finally an article to prove a bartender's responsibility. Some people are blinded by small minded talk and it means nothing. Laws are in effect for a reason and it takes a real journalists to write the truth. Thank you for explaining this to the unknowing. When you serve alcohol to customers, you are in the role of monitoring, it is part of the job. Responsibility is a trait you learn from your parents or teachers. It is carried in you throughout your life and applied within your daily activities. In some careers it just makes such a difference, like this one.

-- Posted by minerette on Fri, Sep 14, 2012, at 8:17 AM

I think maybe some are missing my point. I agree that bartenders have a responsibility.

However, where does it specifically state that the bartenders "overserved" someone?

Everyone wants to lay blame on the bartenders for other peoples actions, but i've yet to see or read where a bartender was cited by Law Enforcement or L.E. have said that they were negligent.

If that is the case, then yes they share some responsibility, but where is this included in any of the reports?

-- Posted by Gdawg on Fri, Sep 14, 2012, at 4:49 PM

The thing everyone is falsely assuming...

There is no reason to believe anyone was intoxicated. There is zero evidence anyone was over-served by any bartender. Everyone wants to jump to the false conclusion that those involved in incidents in Dugger this year were falling down drunk, unable to think for themselves. That simply is NOT the case. No one was over served anything.

We went out for a cheeseburger this evening. Met the new security, a gentle giant named Tim. The Uptown is in no way responsible for the choices of seemingly sane and sober individuals. The bartenders are in no way responsible. The owners are greatly distressed by events totally beyond their control. They have taken steps such as shortening hours and hiring security.

Its time to put the blame where it belongs, on the individuals who committed the acts. Not on the location they chose to do them.

-- Posted by Blueyedame on Fri, Sep 14, 2012, at 11:22 PM

Sorry, Gdawg, I didn't see you comment until after I posted the same observation.

Good to see other realize this isn't the Salem witch trials for God's sake! Facts people, FACTS!

-- Posted by Blueyedame on Fri, Sep 14, 2012, at 11:43 PM

I enjoy the Uptown for the cheeseburgers. I'm sure this has greatly distressed the owners and bartenders and I'm glad they are taking measures to see that something like this doesn't happen again. However, it is the responsibility of those who serve alchohol anywhere to be alert and observant to anyone who seems to be over the limit and cut them off. If the person gets irate about not being able to get another drink, then it is time to bar them from the establishment. I think I remember reading about the man who was hit by the train in Dugger that the bartender noticed he was intoxicated. I thought (now I'm not sure) but I thought the article said when she heard the train, she went out and noticed he was near the tracks. I don't understand why she didn't steer him away from the tracks. I'm not sure that was a case of overserving but I would have guided him back in if it had been me. Yes individual's choose to do this to themselves and make bad choices but if a bartender knows they are way over the limit and continues to serve them anyway, and something disastrous results from that, then they should be held accountable.

-- Posted by AlanaMR on Sat, Sep 15, 2012, at 10:52 AM

This is exactly what is wrong with our society today. People can go out and kill people, drive drunk, do whatever they want and there is always someone else to blame for their actions! If you drink to much it is no one's fault but YOUR OWN! If I go get drunk and choose to drive home and get stopped it is not the bartender who served me fault .. it's mine for choosing to drive! These people are grown adults and responsible for themselves! PERIOD! And just for the record, James Gardner had ONE drink in the Uptown Tavern that night and it was still half full when he left. That is all on tape, so if we are going to blame an establishment for serving him to much then they need to find out where he was before that! But I would like to know where it stated that James was drunk that night?? Just because he was in a bar does not mean he was drunk!

-- Posted by shannonspurling24 on Mon, Sep 17, 2012, at 8:34 AM

Yes, if you get drunk and choose to drive home, it is your fault and if you get caught you will suffer the consequences of a DUI or if you cause an accident you will face more serious consequences. However it is not just your fault, it is also the fault of the person who served you (unless you were drinking alone at home).

That's what is wrong with our society today! People sit and watch things they KNOW are going to end badly, but don't feel it is their responsibility to do anything about it. People often 'just don't want to get involved', but people stepping up and stopping bad things from happening would stop a lot of the bad things that happen in this world.

It is not just your own fault if you drink too much, because when you are drinking your judgement is impaired. If you are drinking and having fun, you don't always know when you've had too much. It's easy to say I'll set a limit before I go out, but once you start drinking, you think 'well, I'll just have 1 more' a few too many times. That's why it most definitely is the responsibility of a sober friend and a sober bartender to make sure that anyone who is over the legal limit has a safe means home and will not be driving and that once they have had 'too much' will not be served more.

-- Posted by RB on Mon, Sep 17, 2012, at 10:57 AM

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