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Tiger Woods Being Sued for Wrongful Death of Bartender

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2 hours ago, DaveP043 said:

What definitely IS possible is for a bartender to know how much a particular patron has been served.  After all, each drink is (in theory) paid for.  The bartender can reasonably be expected to know when a patron has been served enough alcohol to get to a BAC of 0.25%, 3 times the legal limit.  This wasn't a few beers over three hours, this was LOTS of drinks.

I agree that its hard to know that a customer is an alcoholic, in general.  But when that customer is a co-worker, possibly (probably) has talked about his drinking problems and/or alcoholism, possibly has caused problems by being drunk after work before, I can understand the expectation that bartenders and/or management is aware of his addition.  None of us know what the guy has actually done or said, but its not unreasonable to believe that management was aware of his alcoholism.

A lot of this goes to policies of the restaurant, and enforcement of those policies.  Are bartenders allowed to drink while on duty? Are off-duty employees allowed (or encouraged) to drink in the bar after their shift ends?  Are off-duty bartenders allowed to serve themselves? Are bartenders encouraged to keep serving drunk customers?  Are bartenders trained to recognize when a customer has had too much?  Are policies actually enforced?   

Just some musings on this.

As a former bartender (while a college student):

I did, on several occasions, take car keys off people who dropped them on the bar while preparing to leave having consumed a lot of booze, and said "Come back at lunchtime tomorrow when we open, they'll be here waiting for you." Some patrons naturally got obstreperous, but they tended to thank me, albeit while looking a bit shame-faced, the following day.

While you keep an eye on how much people are drinking, and cut them off if they seem hammered, how was I to know how much they'd maybe drunk in a previous bar before showing up in mine? The seriously heavy drinkers often seem sober as a judge, sometimes it's only the silly college kids who act and look wasted.

Once the patron walks out of the bar, even if I've served him more alcohol than would render him legally drunk, or over the limit if he were to drive a car, I'm not responsible for what he gets up to once he walks out of the door (voluntary self-intoxication - he's a grown man of legal drinking age). If that were not the case, we'd have to breathalyze every patron upon his arrival, and serve him no more than one or two drinks while he's in the bar.

Adults have a right to get trashed, if they wish. A bartender pouring beers or serving up drinks is no different to an ABC clerk who sells them a bottle of scotch. If they drink a bottle of scotch in one go, that's on them. If they do get hammered, the law doesn't allow their wilful, inebriated state to provide a defense against any laws they choose to break while in their cups.

But the best rule of thumb, and one I'd recommend to all bar owners, restaurant owners, and actually relevant in this case - the rule my manager always enforced:

If you work here, you don't drink here - on or off the clock.

It was written in big letters on a poster in the break room.

Edited by ScouseJohnny

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2 minutes ago, ScouseJohnny said:

While you keep an eye on how much people are drinking, and cut them off if they seem hammered, how was I to know how much they'd maybe drunk in a previous bar before showing up in mine? The seriously heavy drinkers often seem sober as a judge, sometimes it's only the silly college kids who act and look wasted.

Once the patron walks out of the bar, even if I've served him more alcohol than would render him legally drunk, or over the limit if he were to drive a car, I'm not responsible for what he gets up to once he walks out of the door (voluntary self-intoxication - he's a grown man of legal drinking age). If that were not the case, we'd have to breathalyze every patron upon his arrival, and serve him no more than one or two drinks while he's in the bar.

Adults have a right to get trashed, if they wish. A bartender serving the booze is no different to an ABC clerk who sells them a bottle of scotch. If they drink a bottle of scotch in one go, that's on them. If they do get hammered, the law doesn't allow their wilful, inebriated state to provide a defense against any laws they choose to break while in their cups.

But the best rule of thumb, and one I'd recommend to all bar owners, restaurant owners, and actually relevant in this case - the rule my manager always enforced:

If you work here, you don't drink here - on or off the clock.

Just a couple of responses to the underlined bits:

This guy had just finished working at 3 PM, he wasn't coming in partway through a day-long pub crawl.  I think its reasonable to expect him to be mostly (maybe completely) sober when he finishes work.

The law in many jurisdictions says the bartender (along with ownership and management) actually IS responsible to some extent for what happens after a drunk leaves a bar.  We can disagree on whether those rules are appropriate or not, but as long as they're in effect, the bartender has some responsibility.

And I absolutely agree with the last bit in bold, and have for a long time.  My opinion wasn't based on incidents like this one, but bad experiences listening to off-duty servers bitching about rude customers and bad tips while trying to enjoy myself. 

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17 minutes ago, ScouseJohnny said:

Adults have a right to get trashed, if they wish. A bartender pouring beers or serving up drinks is no different to an ABC clerk who sells them a bottle of scotch. If they drink a bottle of scotch in one go, that's on them. If they do get hammered, the law doesn't allow their wilful, inebriated state to provide a defense against any laws they choose to break while in their cups.

The difference is that a bar is an establishment that a person goes to drink over a period of time. ABC store is were people buy stuff to take to their home or friends house. Of which, they are highly unlikely to leave their premises. A person has to leave a bar at some point.

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I find myself in the middle here somewhere between the apathetic responses of @David in FL and the bleeding heart of @DeadMan. I agree that we tend to not place responsibility with those who deserve it, but most certainly you can also place blame with a bartender for over serving a customer to the point of it being dangerous.

I worked as a bartender for years and you most certainly know when someone has had too much. This guy was grossly over served to get to a blood alcohol level that high. I am surprised he was conscious. Even if he was an alcoholic, you have to place some blame with him for getting in his car after consuming that much alcohol. He might not be able to "choose" not to drink, be he most certainly had the ability to choose not to drive. 

The bartender also has to shoulder some of the blame for serving someone that much. Even if he did not act intoxicated (highly doubtful) you have to know someone is drunk once they have consumed 10+ drinks in a three hour period. 

What I continue to have an issue with is the laws that allow additional defendants to be named for no other reason than they have deeper pockets. It is a stretch, to say the least, that Tiger Woods holds any responsibility for this guy at all. He is named ONLY because some scummy ambulance chasing lawyer saw dollar $igns. I mean hold the bartender, the manager (maybe), and the bar (if proper protocols were not in place) liable; the were involved (directly and indirectly). But the rich owner? Please! And what about the dead guy? Is he not most responsible for his own demise? Of course he is, yet he is made out to be a victim so that lawyers can line their pockets. 

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12 minutes ago, DaveP043 said:

The law in many jurisdictions says the bartender (along with ownership and management) actually IS responsible to some extent for what happens after a drunk leaves a bar.  We can disagree on whether those rules are appropriate or not, but as long as they're in effect, the bartender has some responsibility. 

I acknowledge that. My experience was back in England, where the laws are a little different (at least they were in the 1990s, things may have changed). 20 years in the US has changed how I speak and write, which may add to the confusion (no ABC stores in England, you can buy as much hard liquor as you like at an Asda - Walmart's trading name in the UK).

I believe that bartenders owe some responsibility to their patrons and the world at large. But back in those days, the general rule of thumb was that we kept an eye on people's drinking and behavior principally to ensure peace in our own establishment. If someone wasn't making a nuisance of himself and just quietly drinking, we tended to leave him in peace. We did refuse to serve people showing obvious signs of intoxication. On the other hand, I once slung out a businessman for pinching a waitress's bum before he'd even finished his first glass of red wine.

Another factor in England, I suppose, is the culture of buying rounds and the fact that, outside of hotels and private clubs, it's always cash over the bar (or payment at the time of service, I suppose, in modern times) - either way, you pay when you order drinks. In a busy bar, it's hard to keep track of who and what is drinking what, and how much of it. The US system of running up a tab secured against a credit card is more sensible in that regard. I guess if a bartender looks at his screen and sees that Joe Doe has had six pints in the past 90 minutes, it's time to get John Doe to settle his tab and head out. More knowledge about what's going on equals more responsibility?

Edited by ScouseJohnny

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4 minutes ago, NM Golf said:

It is a stretch, to say the least, that Tiger Woods holds any responsibility for this guy at all. He is named ONLY because some scummy ambulance chasing lawyer saw dollar $igns. I mean hold the bartender, the manager (maybe), and the bar (if proper protocols were not in place) liable; the were involved (directly and indirectly). But the rich owner?

I can understand the logic,

The bartender should have known or been told that the policy of the establishment is not to allow those who have excessively drank to drive. The manager should have known or have trained the bartender of their policy. The owner should be the one to set the culture of the establishment since they are the final say.

If the establishment doesn't have a policy to begin with then it absolutely should go up to the owner. If the manager is ignoring the owner, then it should stop at the manager.

Example, were I work we take ALOT of training. This is for my benefit and it protects the company because they get to say, "We did our due diligence, the employee ignored the training."

Yea, it could and in some cases should go up to the owner.

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9 minutes ago, NM Golf said:

and the bleeding heart of @DeadMan.

:hmm:

He's simply explained the legal side of things.

Sheesh.

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8 minutes ago, saevel25 said:

I can understand the logic,

The bartender should have known or been told that the policy of the establishment is not to allow those who have excessively drank to drive. The manager should have known or have trained the bartender of their policy. The owner should be the one to set the culture of the establishment since they are the final say.

If the establishment doesn't have a policy to begin with then it absolutely should go up to the owner. If the manager is ignoring the owner, then it should stop at the manager.

Example, were I work we take ALOT of training. This is for my benefit and it protects the company because they get to say, "We did our due diligence, the employee ignored the training."

Yea, it could and in some cases should go up to the owner.

Here's the thing too, I guarantee that bar is owned by a company owned by Tiger. Tiger didn't write a personal check for the place. I'm sure it's owned by one of his corporations. The owners of corporations are protected from personal liability for business debts or lawsuits. So his corporation could, in theory, be sued, but in this case Tiger himself has been named. Why? To get to the big money. It's not about blame, responsibility, or liability. It's about the cash. I wonder what percentage the lawyers involved are getting? 

 

5 minutes ago, iacas said:

:hmm:

He's simply explained the legal side of things.

Sheesh.

There is a liberal sprinkling of his opinions throughout as well, whether you want to see it or not. It's not exactly a lesson in tort law. 

 

12 hours ago, DeadMan said:

More concretely, your line of thinking would leave victims of drunk drivers with shattered lives and no compensation. They would only be able to recover from the drunk driver’s auto insurance, and all of that would be used to cover medical costs. The victim wouldn’t see a cent. 

All of this talk about “personal responsibility” leads to that. It’s heartless and incredibly myopic. And horribly ignorant about the justifications for tort law and why it’s important to society.

 

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5 minutes ago, NM Golf said:

There is a liberal sprinkling of his opinions throughout as well, whether you want to see it or not. It's not exactly a lesson in tort law. 

I think it's more a matter of you wanting to see it rather than it really being there. And cut the "liberal" stuff out. That's venturing too close to politics.

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12 hours ago, DeadMan said:

More concretely, your line of thinking would leave victims of drunk drivers with shattered lives and no compensation. They would only be able to recover from the drunk driver’s auto insurance, and all of that would be used to cover medical costs. The victim wouldn’t see a cent. 

That's certainly the distributive justice argument.

A harsh reality for all litigants, it's only worth suing someone who's worth suing. If you get hit by a drunk driver, it's better news if the driver is a Wall Street trader than a guy who works part time in Dollar General.

I'd argue that the primary responsibility for the accident lies with the driver, who voluntarily got drunk and chose to drive a car. But, as you said, if the driver is broke, the victim won't see a cent.

Distributive justice goes in search of someone who is worth suing, and, in the process, I'd argue, stretches the meaning of duty on the part of that person or entity, considerably, in making them a defendant to the case.

Edited by ScouseJohnny

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29 minutes ago, iacas said:

:hmm:

He's simply explained the legal side of things.

Sheesh.

There isn’t only one “legal side of things”...

If there were, we wouldn’t even have attorneys, just judges. 

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42 minutes ago, NM Golf said:

I find myself in the middle here somewhere between the apathetic responses of @David in FL and the bleeding heart of @DeadMan.

There is really no need to add emotion in your response like this if we are going to discuss this like adults. You don't have to agree with someones post, but there is no need to crap on them for doing so. This is what causes threads to unravel into flame wars. 

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6 minutes ago, David in FL said:

There isn’t only one “legal side of things”...

If there were, we wouldn’t even have attorneys, just judges. 

Completely wrong.

I didn't say he explained what the verdict should be, only that the laws exist and why, with examples.

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43 minutes ago, NM Golf said:

What I continue to have an issue with is the laws that allow additional defendants to be named for no other reason than they have deeper pockets. It is a stretch, to say the least, that Tiger Woods holds any responsibility for this guy at all. He is named ONLY because some scummy ambulance chasing lawyer saw dollar $igns. I mean hold the bartender, the manager (maybe), and the bar (if proper protocols were not in place) liable; the were involved (directly and indirectly). But the rich owner? Please! And what about the dead guy? Is he not most responsible for his own demise? Of course he is, yet he is made out to be a victim so that lawyers can line their pockets. 

The way the article is written, Tiger is named because the law allows him to be named directly as the owner in this exact situation (i.e., bar overserving someone they knew to be an alcoholic). I haven't looked at the law myself, so I'm not 100% sure. Generally, you would just go after the business in this situation and not the owner directly. The unique law here I think makes a difference.

I actually think that naming Tiger may have been more for publicity and a quick settlement more than anything. I'm guessing his bar has the necessary insurance to cover this without having to name Tiger directly. But, by naming Tiger directly, and letting the media know, he's created some bad press for Tiger. Also, the timing isn't a coincidence. The lawyer wants to make it a headache for Tiger. It definitely feels scummy, yes, but it's probably in the best interest of his client. And, ultimately, as a lawyer, that's what matters.

5 minutes ago, ScouseJohnny said:

Distributive justice goes in search of someone who is worth suing, and, in the process, I'd argue, stretches the meaning of duty on the part of that person or entity, considerably, in making them a defendant to the case.

I think that's an entirely reasonable view. I think these specific cases can be really difficult. But, if you overserve someone, or serve someone knowing that person is drunk, you do have some responsibility. If you, as a bartender, see someone stumbling drunk out of your bar and start his car, do you really have zero responsibility? I'd say you have some responsibility. Not a lot; not as nearly as much as the drunk driver, but some. Maybe 5%? I don't know.

Put the bartender and legal aspects aside for a second. If you see someone falling down drunk get into a car to drive, as a human being, shouldn't you do something about it? That person is a danger to themselves and others. I really hope everybody would do something about it.

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5 minutes ago, DeadMan said:

If you see someone falling down drunk get into a car to drive, as a human being, shouldn't you do something about it? That person is a danger to themselves and others. I really hope everybody would do something about it. 

I think "Good Samaritan" laws work well in one direction only - protecting the person who tried to help from legal liability, if negligence is attributed to their helpful act; I don't think that extending culpability to the bystander who declines to become a Good Samaritan is desirable. In the instance you describe, I think there is a moral obligation to intervene; I'd be reticent to see a legal obligation arise.

 

Edited by ScouseJohnny

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1 minute ago, ScouseJohnny said:

I think "Good Samaritan" laws work well in one direction only - protecting the person who tried to help from legal liability, if negligence is attributed to their helpful act; I don't think that extending culpability to the bystander who declines to become a Good Samaritan is desirable. In the instance you describe, I think there is a moral obligation to intervene; I'd be reticent to see a legal obligation arise.

I think that's fair. That's why I prefaced that by saying I wanted to put the legal aspects of this aside for a second.

But also note that a lot of countries that aren't the US or UK do have laws requiring people to give assistance. I tend to agree with you, from a legal perspective, but I don't think it's black and white.

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10 minutes ago, ScouseJohnny said:

I think "Good Samaritan" laws work well in one direction only - protecting the person who tried to help from legal liability, if negligence is attributed to their helpful act; I don't think that extending culpability to the bystander who declines to become a Good Samaritan is desirable. In the instance you describe, I think there is a moral obligation to intervene; I'd be reticent to see a legal obligation arise.

There can be legal obligations to act. And I mean beyond the world of Seinfeld.

But quite seriously - I forget the term, but it's something like a "required actor" or something - to report things (like sexual abuse) with my student athletes or anyone else, and I'm also required to step in and provide CPR and some other types of things having been trained for it. Compulsory responder? I don't know what the term is, but I can actually get in trouble if I fail to act when I should. And, as we've already noted, bartenders, etc. are legally obligated in many ways to ensure the safety of not only their customers but those who might be harmed by them.

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12 minutes ago, ScouseJohnny said:

I think "Good Samaritan" laws work well in one direction only - protecting the person who tried to help from legal liability, if negligence is attributed to their helpful act; I don't think that extending culpability to the bystander who declines to become a Good Samaritan is desirable. In the instance you describe, I think there is a moral obligation to intervene; I'd be reticent to see a legal obligation arise.

 

Exactly. I think there are only a few special cases in which people are legally obliged to report an alleged crime or imminent danger, for instance those in privileged relationships like doctors or therapists.

1 minute ago, iacas said:

There can be legal obligations to act. And I mean beyond the world of Seinfeld.

But quite seriously, they also don't: I'm a - I forget the term, but something like a "required actor" or something - to report things (like sexual abuse) with my student athletes or anyone else, and I'm also required to step in and provide CPR and some other types of things having been trained for it. Compulsory responder? I don't know what the term is, but I can actually get in trouble if I fail to act when I should.

I think it's very limited in law

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