Considering A Dram Shop Case Against Cafe Toulouse? Here's What You Should Know
I have been holding bars accountable for over-serving alcohol for the last 30 years. The hundreds of cases I've handled have repeatedly shown me just how rampant this reckless practice really is. Even though the general public might hear about the accidents that drunk drivers cause, it doesn't hear much about the role the bars that over-serve those drivers play in those accidents. With the goal of educating the public on this topic, I spend some of my time researching the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission's complaint database and writing about my findings here on my website. If you believe you may have a dram shop (liquor liability) claim, don't hesitate to call my office at (855) 326-0000.
Cafe Toulouse is a small chain of restaurants modeled on Parisian cafes at the turn of the last century. So far, it has a total of four locations in Texas spread across Dallas, Plano, Austin, and Houston. While Cafe Toulouse has succeeded in creating a charming ambience for its diners, it has not been as successful at staying off of the TABC's radar. Between 2016 and 2019, the Houston location alone had no less than five investigations for allegations of liquor law violations.
In my experience, it's extremely rare for a bar to end up involved in a dram shop case if it doesn't already have a history of complaints with the TABC. When I see a bar investigated several times over a short period, it raises my concern that it could one day play a part in an accident.
Note: Investigations are not proof of wrongdoing. However, if authorities investigate and fail to find evidence, it doesn't necessarily mean an establishment is innocent, either. The purpose of this article is simply to relay publicly-available information about incidents where the TABC has investigated Cafe Toulouse for possible criminal or administrative violations.
TABC Investigations of Cafe Toulouse Between 2016 and 2019
Houston - 4444 Wertheimer Suite E 100
On 06/21/2016, a concerned citizen filed a complaint that alleged a staff member was drinking on the job. This kind of allegation is more serious than it might appear at first glance. Staff have a legal obligation to stop serving alcohol to intoxicated customers, but if they are drinking on the job, their ability to do so is compromised.
TABC looked into the matter, but with this kind of allegation, it is next to impossible to prove any wrongdoing occurred without video evidence. After failing to turn up any proof, authorities ended the investigation on 07/27/2016.
The next citizen complaint, received 10/06/2016, claims that the bar sold alcohol to a drunk customer.
An investigation ensued, but again, authorities could not locate any evidence capable of corroborating the claim. As a result, they decided to end their efforts on 12/02/2016.
The third complaint, placed by an unnamed citizen on 09/25/2018, alleged multiple violations: selling alcohol to a minor, selling alcohol to an intoxicated person, and staff drinking on the job.
Authorities worked on this case for over two months, but were unable to substantiate any of the claims for lack of video evidence. With no other course of action available, the case concluded on 11/28/2018.
On 04/29/2019, a member of the Houston community contacted TABC and claimed that a staff member had been drinking on the job. TABC followed up with an inquiry into the claim shortly thereafter.
The investigation, which lasted nearly two months, failed to find any hard evidence of a violation. Unable to take any further action, authorities shut this case on 06/22/2019.
On 10/02/2019, a concerned citizen filed the last complaint on this list, claiming that a staff member was again drinking on the job.
The investigation lasted for over three months, which is significantly longer than normal. However, in spite of the length of the inquiry, investigators were unable to find any evidence capable of making the charge stick. Given the circumstances, they decided to close this case on 01/08/2020.
Texas Law Says Accident Victims Can Sue Bad Bars
If you would like to learn more about Texas dram shop law (i.e. lawsuits against bars who play a role in injurious or fatal accidents), please visit our Texas Dram Shop Law Info Page.