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Victims' families sue drunk driver and bar

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A civil suit was filed yesterday against James D. Cline, a repeat drunk driver and the bar which allegedly served the driver alcohol after he was visibly intoxicated. The lawsuit, brought jointly by the attorneys for the families of three Hiram College students killed in a motor vehicle accident on March 2, 2006 in Geauga County also names Cline’s girlfriend, who allowed Cline to driver her truck the night of the crash. The bar named in the suit, Skeeter’s 19th Hole, allegedly continued to serve alcohol to Cline while fully aware that he was intoxicated and had a history of drunk driving.

According to the lawsuit, [w]hile at Skeeter’s, Cline was served and consumed an excessive amount of alcohol. During this period of time, Cline was noticeably intoxicated. Cline was also well known to the employees of Skeeter’s of not only having had multiple DUI convictions, but also having a suspended driver’s license. Despite these known facts, Cline continued to be served intoxicating liquor by Skeeter’s. Cline’s intoxication was severe enough that it was observable to other patrons of the bar and its employees.

Bar operators and employees have a duty to prevent a noticeably intoxicated person from consuming alcohol on the establishment’s property. Responsible bar tending entails calling a cab or finding a ride home for a drunk patron rather than continuing to serve. Liquor establishments, as well as their employees, must be held accountable when they send a drunk driver out on the road.