Man Dies After Downing 56 Shots Alcohol: Has U.S. Inspired Binge Drinking In France?

Shelley Hazen

A French bar owner stands accused of encouraging a man to chug 56 shots of alcohol last October. The 57-year-old father evidently drank so much that he had a heart attack and died the next day.

The proprietor of Le Starter in Clermont-Ferrand, France, has been charged with "manslaughter through willful neglect," the Telegraph reported. He is currently on trial.

A man named Renaud had consumed 14 drinks when he noticed a sign that announced a record, held by someone who downed 55. So he chose to beat it, and in one minute swallowed 30 shots of alcohol. Eventually, he did -- by ingesting a total of 56.

That's a liter of liquor.

While he drank, friends and family cheered, the New York Daily News added, and the landlord allegedly told him "only 12 to go," his daughter claimed.

Not long after, Renaud had to be carried home, and that's when he had a heart attack; he was taken to the hospital but died the next day. Now the daughter's lawyer, Antoine Portal, said he should be held accountable.

"(He) served the father of my client when he was not in a fit state to understand what he was doing. It is not known whether he would still be alive if he had not drunk the last 12 shots, but by downing (them), he was left with no chance. It was a case of inciting someone to consume. That's an extremely serious mistake."

On the other side of the argument, the defense has pointed out that no one forced the man to binge drink. That was up to him.

"When you (own) a bar and an order has been placed, you cannot always check who is drinking what. We cannot stand behind every customer," the defense lawyer said.

Unfortunately, binge drinking has become something of a habit in France, and officials want to stop the practice. Before the influence of the U.S. and UK crossed the Atlantic, the French looked down their noses at extreme drunkenness, a public health professor, Laurent Gerbaud, explained to the Local.

"Getting dead drunk used to be... degrading, now it's seen as a positive thing. We are seeing a new type of competition emerge."

The owner of Le Starter may not get off easy, as parliament has passed a law that intends to crack down on people who encourage the excessive consumption of alcohol. So the punishment may, in the end, be quite steep. Because obviously, 56 servings of liquor is just too many.

[Photo Courtesy David Silverman/Getty Images]