Cutting off the tap to drunks is a messy business
Suing the servers
One of the most powerful weapons against bars that serve drunken patrons is the so-called dram shop act, a state law that allows someone to sue a bar or other business for illegally serving alcohol to someone who later dies or suffers an injury.
Attorneys said dram-shop cases rarely go to juries. The bulk of claims are settled out of court, with insurance lawyers negotiating payouts for bars -- almost always on the condition of confidentiality.
"From a public policy perspective, the confidentiality is a bad idea because it doesn't serve as a deterrent for future similar conduct," said attorney Cory Whalen, who sued the Big Ten Supper Club in Arden Hills after a patron crashed into a squad car in 2008 and killed a Ramsey County deputy's wife who was riding with him, a case settled out of court.