Scott Miner's freezing death not Duluth bar's fault

Categories: Law

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A Duluth bar won't be held legally responsible for the death of a 22-year-old man who wandered out into the frigid North Shore winter last year and froze to death, the Duluth News Tribune reports.

Scott Miner went out drinking at the Copasetic Lounge on a 17-below-zero night in late January 2009. After a night of heavy drinking and bar games, Miner left the bar around 2 a.m.

He was found in the parking lot at 9 a.m. and had already been dead for hours. Miner's blood-alcohol level was about three-times the legal limit, so Miner's family sued the Copasetic Lounge under the Dram shop Act, which says it's illegal to sell alcohol to someone clearly intoxicated.

Bartenders and Copasetic patrons testified that Miner didn't appear to be very drunk. But he did have a reputation for drinking heavily. From the Tribune:

Defense attorney Steven Reyelts told jurors in a St. Louis County courtroom that Miner once required medical help after having a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.39 percent, nearly five times the legal limit to drive. But Miner's mother bought her son a drink that night because he seemed fine to her, Reyelts said.

Experts for the defense testified that Miner's frequent drinking probably allowed him to hide how drunk he really was to the bartenders, which is why they shouldn't be held responsible.

A St. Louis County jury took about 90 minutes to find the bar to be clear of the accusations.

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