GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – The state liquor control commission on Friday suspended the liquor license of The B.O.B. for three days over the death of a customer last year, 24 Hour News 8 has learned, and the bar says it will appeal.
The LCC ordered the suspension to cover May 30 through June 1 — a Friday through Monday, according to the bar’s attorney. The suspension covers all the bars in the building, which are under a single liquor license.
The state also fined the bar a total of $600.
Inside woodtv.com: Read the Liquor Control Commission’s full ruling (pdf)
Friday afternoon, The B.O.B. responded to the ruling in a statement, which said: “We respect the Michigan Liquor Control Commission’s process; however, from its inception, the B.O.B. has worked diligently to ensure that it is in compliance with or exceeds the standards set forth by MLCC. Therefore, we will exercise our right to appeal the MLCC’s decision.
The state’s ruling follows a two-day hearing over one of three deaths at The B.O.B. in four years. An autopsy found that Kevin O’Brien was drunk when he fell four floors to his death down a stairwell in May 2013.
The B.O.B. had argued it was not responsible for the death and should not be punished.
The state, though, argued the B.O.B. had over-served O’Brien after he was drunk.
Liquor Control Commissioner Edward Clemente sided with the state in two of three counts, including a charge of over-serving.
The Michigan Attorney General’s Office had asked for a 10-day suspension, which The B.O.B. said could cost it up to $200,000.
In the ruling, the commissioner concluded that O’Brien and two friends had each consumed four drinks each before they got to The B.O.B. between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. on the night O’Brien died.
At 1:30 a.m., after four more drinks at The B.O.B., O’Brien fell while trying to ride the handrail down the stairwell, according to the ruling.
The state accused The B.O.B. of three charges, including serving alcohol to a visibly intoxicated customer, considered the most serious allegation. The commissioner found the bar in violation.
“In this case, there is insufficient evidence in the record to prove that O’Brien was sold or furnished alcoholic liquor by an employee of the above-noted licensee while he was in a visibly intoxicated condition,” the ruling states. “On the other hand, given the testimony of witnesses regarding the level of his intoxication before leaving the establishment, it is reasonable to conclude that O’Brien was sold or furnished alcohol liquor while in an intoxicated condition.”
The commissioner also ruled that O’Brien had consumed alcohol at The B.O.B. while intoxicated, another violation.
However, he ruled there was insufficient evidence to find that the bar had allowed O’Brien to loiter while intoxicated.
In setting the penalty, the LCC commissioner noted the bar’s six prior violations, including a similar charge, since The B.O.B. got its license in January 1997.
After The B.O.B. files its appeal, it will be considered by a panel of three LLC administrative commissioners. The process of filling the appeal will lead to a delay in the bar’s liquor-sale suspension, according to the LLC.