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Boat Club: One year downstream

Amanda Michaels | Friday, January 23, 2004

On Jan. 24, 2003, 231 underage drinkers, over 200 of whom were Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s students, were cited for minor in a tavern charges in a now infamous raid on the Boat Club and later sued by Boat Club owners, the Millenium Club, Inc., for $3,000 each.Three hundred and sixty-four days later, the issue is no closer to being resolved. The 40 suits dismissed in August are being appealed and the remaining suits were delayed until April.Ed Sullivan, attorney for those students whose cases are now under appeal, said that it is impossible to know when the process will come to an end.”It’s our turn to write a brief, and we’ll be doing that within three weeks. When we’re complete with our brief, the plaintiff gets to write a reply brief,” he said. “When it’s fully briefed, it would be with the Court of Appeals, and they can take what time they think is appropriate to examine the case.”Sullivan added that the case could be further appealed to the state Supreme Court, though it would be a rare occurrence.”The fact that it’s a case of first impression, meaning one like it has never been decided in Indiana, is one of the factor the Supreme Court looks at for accepting transfer of a case,” said Sullivan. “However, the Superior Court judge here made an accurate and solid decision, and it should stand.”Neither Boat Club owner Mike McNeff nor Mitchell Heppenheimer, the attorney for Millenium Club, Inc., could be reached for comment.Students affected by the raid admit to being more cautious about when and where they go out, though the incident has not deterred them from drinking altogether.”I took different precautions for a while, but I got another fake ID, and I’m pretty much just being careful. I’m trying not to go somewhere to get busted,” said a Dillon sophomore involved in the suit, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity. “We went to the Boat Club three times a week for most of the first semester and had some best times we’ve had at Notre Dame. “Of course I would have preferred not to be there that night, but Boat Club was still worth it,” the Dillon sophomore continued. “We’re actually all going tomorrow night for the anniversary with some of the other freshmen.”In the wake of the incident, McNeff implemented security measures aimed at keeping underage drinkers out. Those entering the bar now are given a wristband instead of a stamp to indicate that they are over 21. Patrons must also sign an affidavit stating that they are of legal drinking age.