Bars should be liable when over-serving patrons

July 29, 2013

I was surprised that Maryland's top court chose to continue protection of bars that serve intoxicated patrons who cause accidents after leaving their establishments. In most states, courts hear such cases and attribute responsibility proportionately to the bar server/establishment and the patron causing damages. This approach provides sensible shared responsibility.

The Maryland court has indicated, as reported in the Baltimore Sun, that the matter rests solely with public policy in the legislative domain. I wonder if that is in fact a correct interpretation or rather an expression of reticence to rule on a controversial matter. The liquor lobby is very powerful, and I am concerned that legislators will not be willing to establish new laws that would encourage purveyors of alcohol to be more judicious in over-serving patrons.

Joseph Halperin, Baltimore

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