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A customer's stabbing is going to cost a Connecticut restaurant a pretty penny. A Boston Red Sox fan who was harassed and stabbed in the neck by a New York Yankees fan at a restaurant in 2010 has been awarded $4.3 million by a jury, reports The Associated Press.
Red Sox fan Monte Freire, 45, suffered life-altering injuries, including a brain injury, a stroke, impaired speech and vision, and severe scarring.
The jaw-dropping jury award serves as a reminder to business owners in the food and beverage industry to think twice before topping off a visibly intoxicated patron.
The jury in New Haven reached the verdict Thursday in favor of Monte Freire and against the restaurant, U.S.S. Chowder Pot III, in Branford, attorneys for both sides said.
The Chowder Pot's bartenders ignored warnings that the Yankees fan was harassing fellow patrons and trying to start a fight, and continued to serve him alcohol, Freire's attorney Timothy Pothin said.
Jurors "understood our case and held the Chowder Pot responsible for its employees' negligence," Pothin told the AP. "Perhaps this will provide a lesson to other bars and nightclubs in our community and their insurance carriers who continue to maintain untenable positions in cases of clear negligence."
The restaurant was liable in part because of dram shop laws. Such laws hold drinking establishments liable for injuries resulting from overserving alcohol to a patron.
The purpose of dram shop laws is pretty straightforward: to discourage vendors from serving a patron who is clearly wasted and past the legal blood-alcohol limit. The rationale is that such establishments make a decision to continue serving alcohol, so they should be held liable when they make the wrong decision.
Dram shop laws vary widely by state, and it's tough to know exactly when bars are liable for overserving alcohol. But one thing is for sure: A bar can be liable for overserving alcohol if a retailer knew or should have known that the patron was so intoxicated that more alcohol would cause danger to himself or to others.
To err on the side of caution, exercise your right to refuse to serve a patron who seems like he or she has had enough -- especially if you own a bar where both Yankee and Red Sox fans hang out.
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