March 15, 2005
The blurred line of responsibility
Last week, the BC Supreme Court found a local pub 50% liable for the actions of a drunk driver who had been drinking at their establishment.

The pub, now called the Buck and Ear (but was Third Avenue Pub at the time of the incident) is just around the corner from me and is the source of many fun memories over the years. The establishment has been around for the better part of the century, and has a real historical feel to the place. It's had it's day as a fisherman's bar, a peeler bar and many others over the years. In fact, for a long time, it was almost a right of passage for the local boys to be hauled out of there at some point for causing disturbances.

In this case, the patron - McWilliams - was extremly intoxicated. He'd been drinking at the bar all night and then tried to leave the premises. He was returned to the pub by an concerned patron, who yelled out for help getting him a cab which seems to have fallen on deaf ears. The man then left, got into his car, and subsequently drove into 5 pedestrians. One of which suffered life-altering injuries, and had been out celebrating his recent high school graduation with a life full of promise. He now faces a life challenged by mobility and brain injury issues.

While testimony showed that the servers and bartenders were taught the correct procedures, through the 'Serve It Right' course, further examination showed that they often overpoured, and even drank while on shift.

The court case found The Buck 50% liable financially for McWilliams' actions. While I do agree more could have been done to possibly stop McWilliams, I find the 50% liability extremely high. McWilliams, being an adult should have known his limits and taken responsibility accordingly. If you can't handle it, don't drink. The bartenders/servers should not be babysitters. Continuing to drink and relying on the staff to take care of him should not absolve him of his actions. By setting the liability at 50%, it diminishes McWilliams' role in this and that rankles me. I think I would have been ok with 20-25% though.

What do you think? Should bars be responsible for your actions?

Vancouver, British Columbia
A patriotic Canadian full of visions of a better Canada, random thoughts and a lot of hot air. Who am I? A struggling writer and photographer, who looks forward to a better Canada. I read. A lot. I learn. A lot. I push myself. A lot. The world is a small place, and getting smaller every day. I'm proud to have friends in every corner of the earth, and abide by the old adage that there are no strangers, only friends we haven't met yet.
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