Considering A Dram Shop Case Against EPTX? Here's What You Need To Know
My firm has handled more liquor liability (dram shop) cases than anyone else in Texas. With over 30 years of practice behind me, I can attest to just how many bars regularly fail to adhere to alcohol service laws, particularly when it comes to their obligation to refuse service to patrons who are already drunk. While the public might see or hear about a drunk driving accident from time to time, it is much less common for it to hear about the role that irresponsible bars play in those accidents. In order to increase people's awareness of this problem, I dedicate a portion of my time to researching the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission's complaint database and reporting 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.
EPTX is a bar and dance club located in El Paso, Texas. In recent years, it has attracted the attention of the TABC on multiple occasions due to allegations of liquor law violations. Between 2018 and 2020, 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 EPTX for possible criminal or administrative violations.
TABC Investigations of EPTX Between 2018 and 2020
El Paso - 1580 George Dieter Suite 104D
Law enforcement contacted the TABC on 02/02/2018, alleging that the bar sold alcohol to a minor.
While the investigation that followed failed to find any evidence to back up the initial investigation, it did manage to prove four counts of misrepresentation of age by a minor, for which the punishments ranged from pre-trial diversion to no punishment at all. On 03/20/2018, investigators brought the case to a close.
On 03/23/2018, a second law enforcement complaint brought the TABC back to investigate the bar for allegedly selling alcohol to a minor.
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 05/04/2018.
Yet another law enforcement complaint came on 05/03/2018, claiming the bar sold alcohol to both an underage patron and an intoxicated person. Additionally, it claimed a breach of the peace (typically a fight) occurred.
The TABC looked into the matter, but ultimately failed to find any evidence to support the initial claims. However, as in the first investigation summary, agents did manage to find evidence of four counts of misrepresentation of age by a minor, though the report does not specify how the violations were punished. On 07/03/2018, the investigation came to a close.
A law enforcement complaint, dated 06/20/2018, alleged that a breach of the peace took place and that the bar failed to report it (a separate violation in itself).
Even when a police officer is the source of a complaint, the TABC still generally requires video footage of the alleged incident before taking action. As authorities had no such evidence in this investigation, they had no choice but to end their efforts, which they did on 08/03/2018.
A staff member filed a complaint with the TABC on 08/29/2018, claiming that the bar sold alcohol to a drunk patron and that a breach of the peace occurred. While it might seem strange for a staff member to be the source of a TABC complaint, employees have a legal obligation to report any violations they see in the workplace.
As mentioned in a previous investigation summary, the TABC relies heavily on video footage to back up most allegations of wrongdoing. Since they had no such evidence in this investigation, they could not take any action, resulting in their decision to close the case on 10/24/2018.
On 01/15/2020, the TABC received an anonymous complaint, alleging that staff was drinking on the job, sold alcohol during prohibited hours, and allowed a minor to possess or consume alcohol.
Due to a lack of corroborating evidence, authorities could not determine the veracity of the claims. Unable to take any further action, they decided to close the case on 02/27/2020.
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.