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Bar that served Riley Strain may not be liable for his death, legal expert says


A toxicology report earlier this week showed that Riley Strain’s blood alcohol level was nearly three times the legal limit to drive, but the bar that served him may not be liable. 

A report from the Davidson County Medical Examiner's Office shows that Strain had a blood alcohol content of 0.228, His cause of death was listed as drowning and ethanol intoxication, but was ruled as accidental. 

Strain, 22, was reported missing after a University of Missouri Delta Chi Fraternity event in Nashville on March 8. He was kicked out of Luke's Bridge 32 bar on Broadway and 3rd Avenue just before 10 p.m. that night. Video surveillance showed him walking through downtown Nashville by himself.

His body was later discovered floating in the Cumberland River on March 22.

Luke’s 32 Bridge wrote in a statement shared to its Facebook page in March that Strain, according to their records, was served one alcoholic drink and two waters.

A spokesperson for the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission said on Wednesday that the commission is still investigating whether Strain was over-served alcohol on the night of his disappearance.

Tennessee law states that bars can face fines up to $2,500 and may have their liquor license revoked for overserving customers. A bar’s owners and employees may also face criminal charges, if are found to be liable for any injuries or deaths that result from overserving customers. 

However, former Cole County prosecutor Bill Tackett says that in order to prove Luke Bryan’s bar, Luke's 32 Bridge, was liable for Strain’s death, officials would need more than just his BAC because everyone’s alcohol tolerance is different. 

“The issue is, is there clear and convincing evidence that the bar should have known or did know that they were serving a visibly intoxicated person?” Tackett said. “That's defined by statute as somebody that is in a physical, uncoordinated state dysfunction, mental state,  where it's obvious. The blood alcohol content is not enough.  It's part of the equation, but it's not enough to make that determination."

The Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission wrote in a statement to ABC News in March that:

"There are no specific rules or statutes that governs escorting out intoxicated patrons from their businesses or providing assistance in getting someone home," the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission said in a statement. "However, state law prohibits serving alcoholic beverages to someone who is visibly intoxicated. A violation is a class A misdemeanor. The TABC has opened an investigation into this matter to see if any violations have occurred."

Body camera footage from the Nashville Metro Police Department showed a brief interaction an officer had with Strain after he was kicked out of the bar, and Strain appears to hold a conversation. The officer asks how he is doing. Strain was able to respond “I’m good how are you?” as he continued walking down the street.

"You've got to show that there is an uncoordinated person or a physical dysfunction that's happening," Tackett said.

Check back for updates.

Article Topic Follows: Missouri

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Mitchell Kaminski

Mitchell Kaminski is from Wheaton, Illinois. He earned a degree in sports communication and journalism from Bradley University. He has done radio play-by-play and co-hosts a Chicago White Sox podcast.


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