Lee’s Summit, MO — Two young men, 21, were killed early Saturday morning (September 14, 2013) after a single-car accident that Jackson County authorities currently believe was influenced by alcohol. Police said that Kylan Farriss, 21, was killed along with the driver of a car after they lost control along Milton Thompson Road at about 12:30 a.m. on Saturday morning.
According to a report released by the Channel 5 News, Farriss was a passenger in a car that had just left a business in Blue Springs when police began to get calls of reckless driving. A short time later, they went to the intersection of Milton Thompson Road and Langsford Road, where they found the car Farriss was riding in after it had overturned.
The car was on fire and both Farriss and the driver were killed at the scene. Police suspected that alcohol was a factor in the accident, the reports said, but no official confirmation has been released. They believe that the driver lost control of the car while driving south and swerved to the left, hitting a large rock and overturning.
Scene of the Accident
Now, the news reports here mentioned that the victims had been at a “business” just after midnight in the nearby city. Some of the reactions to this online have, so far, been surprisingly hostile as some people are claiming that if a bar was involved, the bar will probably be sued and that the focus on personal responsibility will be blurred at best. One of the reasons I put my voice on this blog is to talk about issues like this, where I feel that people are simply misinformed. To begin with, holding a bar responsible and filing a lawsuit against them in an accident like this does not place all the blame on the bar/restaurant – rather, it evens the playing field. It holds both the bar and the driver responsible for the accident: the driver should not have consumed alcohol and driven, but the bar has a duty to not over-serve their customers alcohol. The simple fact is that a bar has an incentive to sell more alcohol: profit. And it’s simply too easy to do so in an irresponsible fashion (e.g. “$1 shot nights). A lawsuit against the bar takes away that incentive and encourages more responsible behavior, if not a bit strongly so.
The Alcohol and Beverage Commission makes it very clear to businesses who want to sell alcohol that it’s illegal to give customers alcohol beyond the point of visible intoxication. That means that the burden is placed by law on the bartender/server/waiter to track the number of drink sold and not, say, offer a customer 5 shots and a beer over the course of 1 hour. In that hypothetical example, can we really say that the bar wasn’t irresponsible by letting that customer leave and get behind the wheel? What if a gun range claimed that they weren’t responsible for someone else’s inexperience after a customer is accidentally shot? Furthermore, what’s the next step if the bar in the hypothetical example is implicated in another alcohol-related car accident a month, even a year, later? A fine? Forced to shut down? I hope the appropriate parties are illuminated here and thoroughly investigated.