Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
So a woman walks into a bar...
There are likely dozens of different punchlines to the above noted phrase. But in the case of 22-year-old Tammy Kobylka, her trip to the neighbourhood pub was no laughing matter.It ended in death.Now justice officials in Alberta are going after the man who poured her drinks, saying the bartender at Skip Sports Bar committed manslaughter by allowing Kobylka to drink herself under the table and into an early grave. The bar's owner is also charged.It's a unique case. And one that will no doubt be watched by plenty of legal eyes across the country, not to mention those in the restaurant and hospitality business.It is also generating a fair bit of controversy, as you might expect. When I raised the issue during my national "Crime and Punishment" radio show Sunday night, we got a flood of callers who wanted to weigh in.Not surprisingly, opinions were divided.There was the "This is ridiculous, what happened to personal accountability" argument advanced by some. They made valid points, noting the bartender isn't accused of forcing the liquor into Kobylka's mouth. He's also not accused of serving a minor, as Kobylka was 22 at the time of her tragic death last October. Callers who fall into this camp seemed to suggest this is yet another example of trying to find someone, anyone, to blame whenever something goes wrong.The other callers fully supported the move, saying it's high time something was done about excessive drinking and over-serving that goes on in bars across the country. They agree with the position of police and the Crown, who believe Kobylka was too drunk to make clear-headed choices for herself and relied on the good judgment of others to keep her safe.An autopsy revealed Kobylka died of what the coroner termed “acute ethanol toxicity.” Tests showed her blood-alcohol level was five times over the legal limit for driving.A Canadian Press story described alcohol poisoning has occurring when a person drinks a lot very quickly, overwhelming the body’s ability to protect itself by passing out or vomiting. The body then literally shuts down, sometimes to the point where the drinker stops breathing and dies.Alberta Justice spokesman David Dear told reporters last week such charges are rare, but “the courts have made it plain that bar owners and staff can be liable for the consumption of patrons.”I'd like to know where you stand on this and, more importantly, why? It's an important issue that could have a far-reaching impact across the country.
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