Waldorf, MD asked in Consumer Law and Business Law for Maryland

Q: Can a bar in Maryland legally display declined tabs on the wall for customers to see?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Mark Oakley
Mark Oakley
  • Rockville, MD
  • Licensed in Maryland

A: If by "declined tabs" you mean, unpaid tabs or declined credit cards that left the tab unpaid, then yes. Truth is a complete defense to a defamation (libel) claim, if the named party on the tab is feeling humiliated by being called out in this manner. A "Wall of Shame" has appeared in numerous establishments, but you don't see it often so I imagine most consider it in rather poor taste. I suspect if someone's name is up there on an unpaid tab, they can have it removed by paying it off. Skipping out on tabs is a real problem in the restaurant industry, especially in bars where the patrons can sit, order drink after drink without payment while their tab runs up, then slip out in the crowd without paying. Usually the poor bartender gets stuck with reimbursing the bar owner for that. If this is not what you are asking about, then perhaps more details would help.

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