Considering A Dram Shop Case Against East Texas Cocktails? Here's What You Need To Know
I've sued more bad bars for irresponsible alcohol service over the last 30 years than anyone else in Texas. In the hundreds of cases I've handled, I've seen firsthand just how widespread the practice of over-serving really is. Too many bars put profit over safety, even though it is their legal responsibility to not let customers drink too much, and this practice adds to the risk of drunk driving accidents. In order to help people understand how frequently this happens, I regularly review the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission's complaint records and report my findings here on my website. If you think you may have a dram shop (liquor liability) claim and have questions about how to proceed, please call me at (855) 326-0000.
East Texas Cocktails is a bar and grill located in Hawkins, Texas. Offering breakfast, lunch, dinner, karaoke, arcade games, and a full bar, it has established a solid reputation with local patrons. However, over the years, it has also had its share of run-ins with the TABC for allegations of liquor law violations. Between 2016 and 2019, agents conducted five separate investigations into alcohol service practices at East Texas Cocktails.
In all my years of practice, rarely have I seen a bar without a prior history of TABC investigations involved in a dram shop case. Almost every bar I have sued was already on the authorities' radar. That's why I pay close attention when I see a bar with several recent complaints against it. The more a bar has been investigated, the more I become concerned that it might one day end up contributing to 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 East Texas Cocktails for possible criminal or administrative violations.
TABC Investigations of East Texas Cocktails Between 2016 and 2019
Hawkins - 5413 FM 14 South
On 04/15/2016, a member of the Hawkins community contacted the TABC and alleged that bar staff was drinking on the job and served alcohol to an intoxicated patron. The first allegation is more serious than it might appear on the surface. Part of the bar staff's job is to look out for signs of intoxication and stop providing alcohol to customers who exhibit them. If the staff itself is intoxicated, its ability to perform this essential function is compromised.
Authorities followed up with an investigation, but they failed to find any evidence to corroborate the claim. Unable to take further action, TABC closed the case on 06/05/2016.
The next complaint didn't come until over a year later, on 11/13/2017, with a concerned citizen claiming that the bar sold alcohol to a drunk patron and during prohibited hours.
The ensuing investigation failed to uncover enough evidence to prove a violation had occurred. Without video evidence or eyewitness testimony of a violation, it is virtually impossible for TABC to take legal action. In this particular instance, it had neither. Consequently, agents decided to end their efforts on this case on 01/02/2018.
An unnamed source reported the bar to the TABC on 07/09/2018, alleging that staff was drinking on the job, served alcohol to a patron under the age of 21, sold alcohol to a drunk customer, and sold alcohol to a non-member.
After a month and a half of inquiry, TABC agents were not able to determine the veracity of the claims. Consequently, the investigation came to a close on 08/26/2018 without any further action.
A concerned citizen reached out to TABC on 09/27/2018 and charged that the bar permitted a minor to consume alcohol and sold alcohol to a patron who was already over the limit.
The investigation that followed was not able to prove that a criminal or administrative violation took place. As a result, authorities closed the case without taking further action on 11/15/2018.
On 09/12/2019, a citizen complaint alleged that a breach of the peace (typically a fight) occurred and that staff sold alcohol to a patron who was already drunk.
Authorities looked into the matter, but after nearly two months of inquiry, they failed to find evidence to back up either claim. TABC decided to shut this case on 11/08/2019.
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.