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Family sues Duluth bar in man's freezing death

The Copasetic Lounge in Duluth illegally sold drinks to an obviously intoxicated man, which contributed to his death after he spent a 17 below zero night lying on the ground in January 2009.

The Copasetic Lounge in Duluth illegally sold drinks to an obviously intoxicated man, which contributed to his death after he spent a 17 below zero night lying on the ground in January 2009.

That's the allegation made by the family of 22-year-old Scott Miner, who died in the parking lot of a vacant commercial building at 326 E. Central Entrance on Jan. 25, 2009.

According to court documents, Miner left the Copasetic about 2 a.m. and his body was found at 8:57 a.m. An autopsy determined the cause of death to be "exposure, with acute alcohol intoxication.'' His time of death was estimated at 4 a.m.

Copasetic Lounge denies that it illegally sold or furnished alcoholic drinks to Miner or that it contributed to, or was at fault, for his death. In their answer to the complaint, the defendants allege that Miner contributed to his own death and the lounge has no legal liability.

A St. Louis County jury will decide the case this week with jury selection and testimony scheduled to start today. Judge Sally Tarnowski will preside over the trial.

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Miner was a member of the extended family that owns Super One Foods. His mother, Kim, his sister, Patricia, and brother, Luke, filed the Dram shop act civil lawsuit against J&J Miller, Inc., doing business as Copasetic Lounge, in June. Each of the plaintiffs is seeking more than $50,000 in damages for funeral and burial expenses, mental anguish and for being deprived of their loved one's presence.

Miner's blood alcohol level at the time of his autopsy was nearly three times the legal limit to drive.

Duluth lawyer Steven Reyelts is representing Copasetic Lounge. Paul Schweiger is the Duluth attorney representing the Miner family. Reyelts declined to comment on the case Monday. Schweiger was out of his office and couldn't be reached for comment.

According to court documents, a medical expert for the defense will testify that Miner wouldn't have shown obvious signs of intoxication to the two bartenders who served him that night. However, a medical expert for the plaintiffs in his report opined that based on Miner's alcohol concentration, he would have appeared obviously intoxicated when served.

The Duluth News Tribune and the Herald are Forum Communications Co. newspapers.

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