Is there a question of bar liability in the Riley Strain case? We asked.

Officials find missing student Riley Strain's bank card near river
Posted at 9:53 AM, Mar 19, 2024

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The focus remains on finding 22-year-old Riley Strain even after a week of searching downtown Nashville and the Cumberland River.

But as the search continues, many still wonder about the circumstances that led to the young man's disappearance. There are questions about liability and the culture of drinking downtown.

Watch above the new video of Riley interacting with an officer from the Metro Nashville Police Department.

On most any night, the scene here along Second and Broadway is wild as people come to party, enjoy music and drink.

"Downtown Nashville certainly has become analogous to the French Quarter in the last couple of years," said NewsChannel 5 legal analyst Nick Leonardo, who added it's all too common these days to see revelers who have clearly overindulged.

In most cases, they'll wake up in the next morning with a hangover. But in Riley Strain's case, some security video appears to show him disoriented.

Now in newly released police body cam video on Monday, Strain has a lucid response to an officer.

"How are you doing sir? Good, how are you?"

The 22-year-old from the University of Missouri came to Nashville on spring break with fraternity brothers. He's been missing since he was kicked out of Luke Bryan's bar.

The Alcoholic Beverage Commission has since opened an investigation into the circumstances. In Tennessee, bars can face potential liability for serving someone under 21.

"Or, if they served someone who they knew to be intoxicated at the time they served them, and that was the cause of injuries or damage down the road," said Leonardo.

Could Luke's be liable for Strain's disappearance?

The bar says records show he was served one alcoholic drink and two waters and then security escorted Strain out for violating unspecified conduct standards.

"If that is true and accurate, it is a high hurdle, and there may not be any liability for them. We don't know if that was the last bar or other ones who were overserving him. Did he have liquor on his person?" said Leonardo.

Regardless, Leonardo said Strain's story could likely get state lawmakers' attention to consider passing clearer guidelines on how and when to serve patrons alcohol.

Strain was escorted from the bar by security around 9:35 p.m. and became separated from his fraternity brothers. He has not been seen since except on security video.

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