Alcohol, marijuana gummies and karaoke don't always mix, man learns
A West End man down at the Bell in Hand for some karaoke wound up being transported to Mass General twice for a large gash in the back of his head early one fall morning - the second time only after he agreed to leave his cell phone at home since he'd been kicked out the first time for continuing to video doctors and nurses even though they'd asked that he stop.
At a Boston Licensing Board hearing this morning, police and workers at the Union Street bar described a beef turning physical between a bunch of men during karaoke around 1 a.m. on Oct. 13 that ended with the man getting slammed into a high-top table, opening up the gash in the back of his head
One bartender said things seemed fine that night, until she heard shouting and turned around to see the men shoving each other. At the hearing, nobody said what might have set off the shoving.
When police arrived, one officer told the board, they found the man sitting on the ground, several people trying to apply pressure to the back of his head. The officer said the man appeared heavily intoxicated and that she was unable to get many details out of him, except that he claimed he'd been attacked by an FBI agent. He then accused her of being an FBI agent as well and of stealing his phone. - and said he'd enjoyed several "weed gummies" in addition to what he'd drunk at the bar. Bar employees were unable to say how many drinks he'd been served.
Police said EMTs transported the man to the Mass. General emergency room, where, they said, he was soon kicked out for refusing to stop videoing employees. Police continued that EMTs were then called to his apartment nearby after a friend of his elsewhere on the East Coast called Boston Police to report she had just Facetimed with him and that she was concerned because he was covered in blood. The same EMTs who had initially taken him to the hospital were the ones to respond; they took him back after he agreed to leave his phone at home.
The licensing board meets Thursday to decide whether the bar could have foreseen the incident and done anything to prevent it.
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Disagree with MA policy
Bars should not be responsible for their patrons' behavior unless there's been blatant overserving happening.
Mixed feelings on this
As a matter of principle I don’t think establishments should be responsible for the behavior of their patrons.
On the other hand, living next door to a shitty bar is an extremely unpleasant experience and a major infringement on one’s inherent right to be left alone.
The establishment, as a direct consequence of how it brands itself, how it positions itself in the market, how it markets itself, and how it conducts operations, has a major impact on what its neighbors experience.
So I would suggest that the establishment is not responsible for the individual behavior of any one patron, but it is responsible for the aggregate effect it has on the community.
You can’t haul the clientele as a class before the licensing board; the establishment is the only real point of leverage to effect change.
Mostly because I feel in Boston the pendulum swung too far toward local/community control and there's a sort of tyranny of the busybodies/hypersensitives that cements our reputation for being no fun in place.
Also, the vagueness in all of this opens the door for all sorts of racism and classism to work its way in.
I hear you
The classism argument in particular: history is full of regulations all about “let’s not let the poors drink.” Temperance movements often focus on banning the specific drinks of poor people and/or the types of establishments in which they drink. See, for example, anti-gin campaigns in England.
Maybe it would be better to
Maybe it would be better to require a tri/bi/annual review of bars with data like number of police reports to that address, number of complaints made through the mayor/council's constituent services, any inspectional services data, etc... make it a regular, standard review to catch major problem establishments instead of pulling people up to justify any and every incident. Even the best run, careful, responsible bar can have shitty patrons show up and cause an incident. But if it's one or two problems a year it's a waste of time and money and lawyers to assume it HAS to be the bar's fault, every time.
But what consitutes "blantant overserving"?
The law puts the responsibility on the establishments to never serve an alcoholic beverage to a patron who is, or appears to be intoxicated. If a patron causes such an issue that the police and EMS are called, and the patron appears to be intoxicated at that time, is it not reasonable to ask the question of have they been over-served? If not under those circumstances, then when would it ever be appropriate to go through the process to make such a determination?
I'm not going to pretend that people don't get drunk in bars, or that bars don't continue serving people who are drunk, but the line on enforcement of the law has to be drawn somewhere.
The law is pretty clear on
The law is pretty clear on the licensed party being responsible. And that's why they check people at the door, check them when they order drinks and generally keep an eye on them during their stay so that they don't end up in front of the board.
But generally speaking, and I can say this from experience, there's a certain type of person who is determined to make full use of their time at the bar to get as inebriated as possible. Karaoke at 1am and all that. This person will pre-party at a residence or dinner, have themselves a couple of strollers while walking over to the bar and waiting in line, order a couple of drinks, SHAWTS!, have a couple of quick nips in the bathroom and maybe a gummy or two, all the while fooling everyone until they come into contact with a party less tolerant of their antics and lo and behold, someone catches a bloody.
Drunk people gathering at those Faneuil bars? Nothing new to see here. Drunk and bleeding guy with a head wound outside the bar? That one's on the bar.
Whether they do something about it or not is sort of a moot point. The place has been there forever, every 20-something in a fifty mile radius knows exactly where it is and why they go there, every adult in the city avoids it so I'm going with "you'll have to police yourself better" and "things need to be cleaned up over there" plus maybe a stern look and a tsk-tsk from a board member. That's it.
There are so many variables in play
The guy was high on edibles. He could very well have been sitting at a table, too buzzed to go to the bar, so his friends say, "Hey! Need a beer?" and bring him one....and then another. The bar wouldn't really be expected to notice the really drunk/stoned guy sitting at a table until he starts making trouble. (And in this case, it sounds like he was more of the victim than an aggressor, although we'll never know the whole story)
Bottom line, I don't think the bar did anything wrong in this case.
Your scenario is plausible
But does it vindicate the bar? That's for the Board to decide, based on the facts and circumstances presented in the hearing. The bar still has a legal obligation to ensure that beverages are consumed by those who can be legally served.
Your scenario is not much different than allowing a minor to have someone else procure the drinks for them, and I think we'd all agree in that case the bar has a responsibility there.
The counter-argument to all of this would be that we are entirely over-regulating alcoholic beverages. I'm not going to make the argument for or against that position, though I would point out that for 13 years, a century ago, consumption of alcohol was illegal in almost all circumstances in this entire country, under the highest set of laws of our country.
I would expect the bar to detect an underage person, either at the door, when they come up for drinks at the bar or even just sitting at a table looking too young. That IS their responsibility. This guy was of legal age. How intoxicated he was, from either this or that, we (and the board) will probably never know. As you say, it's up to the board to decide, but my vote is the bar didn't do anything wrong.
But I think these hearings are part of that process
My general impression, just from reading UHub, is that most of these don't end up with punishments. But if there are a bunch of incidents establishing a pattern, the board can decide to start imposing sanctions.
Well, a hearing is not *technically* a punishment
While a hearing itself is not technically a punishment, you still need to cover half a day of your manager's time, and I'm sure Dennis Quilty's hourly rate isn't anything to sneeze at.
Fair enough on that
although I'm also OK with a few of these hearings now and then as a cost of doing business as an alcohol-serving establishment.
They don't even know how much he was served
Don't you think that is a red flag right there?
I don't know?
I don't know? Is it usual for a bar to track exactly how many drinks each patron is served? How is this handled, particularly with multiple servers, a shift change, patron going from the bar to restaurant area, etc.?
Medium-weird, I think.
If he's paying by the drink in cash, it could be easy to lose to track of exactly how many drinks he was served depending on how busy things get or how the staffing works. Depending on how strong the edibles were too, he may have come in "fine", had a few drinks, then got into trouble fast when they kicked in.
Obviously, if he had a tab, then yes, that would be something very different.
At least his body wasn't found in the bathroom
Unlike the poor guy from a few years ago
carrying a foreign load
So many of the revelers knock back a few at home (see story above, not the roofie part, the drinking at home part) before they go out, ostensibly to save money, but they sometimes overserve themselves and the bartender is not involved.