B.O.B. liquor license suspension upheld

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — After two attempts at overturning the decision, the order to temporarily suspend The B.O.B.’s liquor license stands.

Kent County Circuit Court Judge George Buth ruled Thursday afternoon that the Michigan Liquor Control Commission made no error in its decision to suspend the liquor license issued to The B.O.B. for 10 days following the deadly fall of Kevin O’Brien last year.

O’Brien was one of three men to die after falling down a stairwell at the B.O.B, a Grand Rapids bar and restaurant establishment located at 20 Monroe Ave. The falls happened in separate incidents over the past several years. The stairwell has now been modified to prevent falls.

The 10-day suspension came as The B.O.B.’s owners were appealing the initial ruling to suspend the license for three days. At the conclusion of the first appeal, the LCC opted to enhance the suspension — rather than rescind it as The B.O.B.’s owners wanted.

Following that ruling, The B.O.B.’s owners appealed to the Kent County Circuit Court, where Judge Buth heard oral arguments Thursday afternoon.

“I think we all know what the real reason is here. The fact is that this evening ended for Kevin O’Brien with a tragic fatal accident that claimed this young man’s life,” Todd Dickinson, an attorney representing The B.O.B, said in court. “That’s something we should never forget, but it’s not something that should control the outcome of this case.”

The B.O.B. representatives contend that there was no way for staff at the nightclub to know that O’Brien was drunk, but the LCC attorneys said testimony revealed that there were outward signs that O’Brien had too much to drink the night he died.

In a three-paged written ruling, Buth addressed the concerns raised in the request for appeal, saying that he found the LCC’s decision was within the law.

“No appeal is warranted,” Buth concluded.

Representatives for LCC said that no decision had been made on when the suspension might take place. Officials were waiting to talk with attorneys for The B.O.B. before commenting further.

The B.O.B. can appeal Buth’s ruling.

The B.O.B. released a statement Friday: We are disappointed with the court’s ruling, but intend to continue to seek vindication of our position through the court system. We have always believed that our alcohol safety training program for the staff of The B.O.B. meets and exceeds MLCC standards and that the evidence shows that our staff performed properly on the night in question. Our continued concern, and a concern all establishments that serve alcohol should have, is that if a person is not visibly intoxicated, you can still be held responsible for their actions, which are unknown to the establishment. That puts enormous risk on every licensee.

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