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Boathouse, Handleys, House of Blues, others at risk of closing from Luke Rankin’s liability law

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David Hucks
David Hucks
David Hucks is a 12th generation descendant of the area we now call Myrtle Beach, S.C. David attended Coastal Carolina University and like most of his family, has never left the area. David is the lead journalist at

Sheila Merck and Asheton Reid are part of a group called SC Venue Crisis which is advocating for small entertainment venues struggling to stay open due to the new, high cost of liability insurance.

The South Carolina House and Senate passed SC Bill 116 in 2017. The law requires businesses selling alcohol past 5pm for on-premises consumption to have a liquor liability insurance policy of at least $1 million. There was no such requirement until this passage, leaving victims with few options. The legislation passed both the House and Senate with an overwhelming majority and took effect on July 1, 2017.

Hear the tragic consequences of this new law explained

The bill was sponsored by S.C. Senator Luke Rankin and S.C. Senator Gerald Malloy. The S.C. Trial Lawyers, which helped Rankin become S.C. Judiciary Head under the leadership of Alex Murdaugh, pushed for the new legislation.

SC Law 116 Luke Rankin and Gerald Malloy
SC Law 116 Luke Rankin and Gerald Malloy

Say Merk and Reid, “should a customer visit the Boathouse at 5 p.m., and perhaps not drink at all, then visit Handleys Pub and Grill and have a few drinks, then later visit the House of Blues having a few more drinks, then get in a car accident, this new law allows trial lawyers to sue all of the above named venues.”

Because of Rankin’s new law, many small music venues in South Carolina have been hit hard by skyrocketing liability insurance premiums, which have increased as much as tenfold in some cases. These premiums cover the cost of legal defense if someone is injured on the premises or if property damage occurs during an event. As a result, many small venues that cannot afford the increased insurance rates have had to, or, are choosing to shut down.

None of the venues mentioned above have shut down yet, but some smaller venues have.

SC Venue Crisis argues that small music venues have been unfairly targeted by the insurance industry and trial lawyers, because of Rankin’s new law.

They say the law doesn’t take into account the unique risks and low profit margins that come with running a small venue. They are pushing for legislative action to address this issue and provide relief to struggling venue owners.



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