Considering A Dram Shop Case Against Club Fuego? Here's What You Need To Know
For three decades, I've been holding bars accountable for over-serving alcohol. In the hundreds of cases I've handled, I've seen just how widespread irresponsible alcohol service is, as well as the tragedies that often follow in its wake. While people might see or hear about drunk driving accidents from time to time, rarely do they hear about the role that reckless bars play in those accidents. In order to draw more attention to this issue, I dedicate a portion of my time to investigating the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission's complaint records and reporting my findings here on my website. If you believe you may have a dram shop claim, please call my office at (855) 326-0000.
Club Fuego is a bar located in Harker Heights, Texas. In recent years, it has attracted a significant amount of attention from the TABC due to allegations of liquor law violations. Between 2015 and 2019, authorities conducted no fewer than six investigations into the bar's alcohol service practices.
In my experience, it's uncommon for a bar without a history of run-ins with the TABC to end up on the hook for contributing to a wrongful death or injury. Virtually every bar I have ever sued was already on the authorities' radar. That's why I pay close attention to bars with several recent complaints against them. The more investigations a bar has had, the greater my concern is that it could one day contribute to an accident.
Note: Investigations are not proof of wrongdoing. However, if authorities investigate and fail to find evidence of a violation, 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 Club Fuego for possible criminal or administrative violations.
TABC Investigations of Club Fuego Between 2015 and 2019
Harker Heights - 704 Edwards Drive Suite B
On 02/17/2015, a concerned citizen filed a complaint with the TABC alleging that the bar sold alcohol to both a minor and an intoxicated person.
Authorities looked into the matter shortly thereafter. For most liquor law violations, the TABC requires either video footage of the incident or eyewitness testimony from one of its agents in order to take action. Having neither in this investigation, authorities decided to close the case on 04/11/2015.
Law enforcement contacted the TABC on 07/11/2017, alleging that the bar sold alcohol to a patron who was already over the limit and that a breach of the peace (typically a fight) took place.
Even when the source of a complaint is a police officer, the TABC still requires corroborating evidence before taking action. Since investigators had no such evidence on this occasion, they were left with no choice but to close the case, which they did on 09/27/2017.
A member of the Harker Heights community reached out to the TABC on 12/31/2018, alleging that a breach of the peace occurred.
As in the previous investigation, authorities could not determine the veracity of the claim due to a lack of video evidence. Unable to take any further action, they decided to conclude their work on 03/02/2019.
On 06/12/2019, law enforcement got in touch with the TABC and claimed multiple violations, including: an unreported breach of the peace, permitting the possession of drugs on the premises, selling alcohol to an intoxicated patron, and allowing customers to consume alcohol during prohibited hours.
Of all the accusations, TABC agents were only able to find evidence to back up the unreported breach of the peace, which they classified as an administrative violation. After handing down an unspecified penalty, agents brought the case to a close on 08/15/2019.
Yet another law enforcement complaint, filed on 10/01/2019, alleged that a breach of the peace occurred.
The ensuing investigation lasted only two days - far shorter than the typical duration of a month or two. After failing to uncover any proof of wrongdoing, investigators wrapped up their efforts on 10/03/2019.
On 12/03/2019, a law enforcement complaint claimed again that a breach of the peace took place.
Lacking video footage of the alleged incident, TABC agents could not confirm the claim. With no other option available, they shut the case on 12/12/2019.
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.