Jul 12, 2017 - HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH?: SASKATCHEWAN BARS RESPOND TO SGI OVER-SERVING LAWSUIT

Bar owners and bartenders in the province could be held accountable for the actions of their customers after a precedent-setting lawsuit was filed in Saskatchewan last week.

SGI announced it would be suing two bars that served Catherine McKay, the impaired driver who killed the Van de Vorst family of four in January 2016. Her blood alcohol level was close to three times the legal limit.

The legal action against Industrial Kitchen & Bar and Crackers Licensed Cocktail & Dining Room in Saskatoon is the first of its kind in Saskatchewan.

Tim Rogers, co-owner of the Lancaster Taphouse in Regina, said he's always known that there is a liability on them as owners for over-serving and it's something he said he takes very seriously.


Who is to blame?


But he says the the onus should still be on the person drinking and driving, rather than the bartender, since the legal limit has been lowered to .04.

"One drink is over the limit now. Am I supposed to call a cab for every single customer?" he said.

Tim Rogers, co-owner of the Lancaster Taphouse in Regina, says he worries about SGI putting the onus on bars.

Rogers said his bartenders are trained to look out for people coming in who may have already had too many at another bar.

Although the amount of drinks McKay had at each bar the night she was arrested has not been released, both establishments are under the microscope.

"If I have a beer here and go somewhere else and have ten more, why is that first bar liable?" Rogers said. "To take it to a point where, as a small business owner, if one person slips through the cracks I could lose my business on that, is very scary."

In the past, Rogers said he's called a cab for customers who have proceeded to bolt out and drive away themselves.

With the new standard set by SGI, Rogers said the agency should provide equipment so bars can test every single customer. Until then, he said bartenders have to go by what they've served each customer and how they perceive their condition.


Cutting customers off


Cathedral Social Hall bartender Turner Thompson said he agrees with SGI that the bar and bartender should be held accountable for over serving, if that's the case. He said the bartender has a responsibility to watch over customers who are getting their drinks at the bar.

"I know when people have drank too much and I know when to cut people off," Thompson said.

Cathedral Social Hall bartender Turner Thompson said he agrees with SGI that the bar and bartender should be held accountable for over serving

In the past year, Thompson said he recalls cutting off 10 to 15 customers without too much hassle.

He said he tries to start conversations with customers who come in. If they are slurring their words or unable to respond, he serves them water.

"If they don't have the ability to talk to me, I say, 'Sorry man, you can't have anything to drink,'" he said.

SGI says it will also be suing McKay. The 49-year-old pleaded guilty to four counts of impaired driving causing death in June 2016. This January, she was sentenced to 10 years.

According to Statistics Canada, Saskatchewan led the provinces in its impaired driving rate in 2015.

Source: CBC News


 

Last updated on: 2017-08-20 | Link to this post