We live in a litigious society. In some cases it is hard to believe any court would entertain them let alone award someone a settlement. As an example, from the website “Howstuffworks.com” by Clint Pumphrey, he cites a case from 2009 in which a woman, who was 20 years old at the time, was served alcohol at a bar and grill in Bluffton, South Carolina. The young woman was intoxicated and shortly after leaving the bar, she lost control of her car and rolled it (she was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident). Due to her injuries she is paraplegic. The woman sued the bar and grill for not verifying her age and ensuring she was not already inebriated. She also sued the SCDOT claiming that there was a defect in the shoulder of the road they were responsible for maintaining. After doing some searching on court records, it appears the lawsuits were dismissed. I feel for the young woman who now has to live her life in paralysis, but she refused to take responsibility for her own actions which caused her injuries. This case was a win for the bar owner, but if you own a nightclub or bar can you afford to take a chance that you might not be the next defendant? What happens if someone has too much to drink, leaves your establishment, has an accident and injures someone else, will you be held responsible? It could happen. According to a USA TODAY article dated November 28, 2012 by Larry Copeland, a young couple in Charlotte North Carolina was critically injured and their unborn child killed when their car was struck by an intoxicated driver. The driver had left a Restaurant and Bar and had been served at least ten drinks, according to the report. A jury awarded the couple 1.7 million dollars against the restaurant. My heart goes out to these victims, no one wants to see another person killed or injured. Bottle Service paired with bottle locks for alcohol is an offering you should consider starting in your nightclub to help you avoid being a party to such lawsuits.
Bottle Service varies in how it works from club to club, but the general idea is that you offer a V.I.P. reservation to a party and they receive special treatment from your nightclub. This may include a special table or a room with a view of the club dance floor. It should also include a dedicated server who will bring mixers and a bottle or two of a top shelf wine or spirit. The bottle(s) should be secured with bottle locks to restrict the access to the bottle. The lock goes over the top of the bottle and prevents someone from opening it without a special key. Your wait staff would have that key so when someone is ready for another drink the amount of alcohol poured is controlled. This also keeps someone from taking the bottle when they are not a member of the party which has paid for it. By having a dedicated server who is monitoring the pouring of the drinks and the amount of consumption, the club owner or manager helps to prevent a customer from getting too intoxicated. Properly trained staff can identify those in a group who may be getting to the point where they should be cut off from further alcoholic beverages. If done properly, it would be possible to have a requirement for a designated driver or a cab service to drive revelers home when they appear to be intoxicated.
Another protection for your nightclub if you offer a bottle service is that your dedicated waiter or waitress can check IDs when the party arrives. Once the age of members has been verified, the risk of serving an underage patron is removed. If a member of the group is under 21, the security offered by bottle locks will prevent that person from pouring themselves a drink.
Bottle Service and bottle locks may not remove all the legal challenges associated with operating a nightclub, but they go a long way to reducing risk. Make every effort to run a fun, safe business for your customers and community, look into the benefits of starting a bottle service.
For more information on bottle service, contact us or call 1.770.426.0547