Appeals court rules with family of bar employee who died removing drunk customer

A Minnesota court of appeals has reversed and remanded a lower court's decision clearing a Minneapolis bar from responsibility in the death of one of its employees from injuries sustained while removing an unruly customer. 

The incident in question took place March 2011 at the Uptown Drink Bar, where a manager was being assaulted by two drunk patrons named Jason Sunby and Nicholas Anderson, who were being thrown out at the time. 23-year-old food runner Maxwell Henson came to the man's aid to help remove Anderson, who they both began to walk out together.

One of the men tripped on a set of stairs outside the bar, bringing the entire trio down with him. Henson suffered a traumatic brain injury in the fall, something he would later die from.

His family later sued the establishment for negligence in not cutting the men off earlier, though a lower court ruled with the bar that Henson assumed risk by jumping into the fray, and that the duo's drunkenness was not a primary factor in Henson's cause of death.

Both men told police that night they had consumed more than 10 drinks, with experts testifying in the case that they each would have had a blood alcohol concentration of at least .25 percent. 

The appellate court, however, ruled Thursday that a reasonable person could make a connection between Anderson's intoxication and Henson's death. In addition, the panel of judges wrote in their decision that by overserving the customers, Uptown Drink changed the calculation of risk Henson made before intervening in the situation.

Attorneys for Uptown Drink could take the case to the Minnesota Supreme Court sometime in 2018.