Considering A Dram Shop Case Against H.T.'s Lounge? 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.
H.T.'s Lounge is a bar located in Texas City, Texas. In recent years, it has attracted the attention of the TABC due to allegations of liquor law violations. Between 2016 and 2019, authorities conducted no fewer than five 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 H.T.'s Lounge for possible criminal or administrative violations.
TABC Investigations of H.T.'s Lounge Between 2016 and 2019
Texas City - 6204 Fm 1765
Law enforcement filed a complaint with the TABC on 04/01/2016 that alleged multiple violations. These included: a breach of the peace (typically a fight) that went unreported, possession of drugs on the premises, sale of alcohol to an intoxicated person, and other miscellaneous infractions.
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 06/30/2016.
The TABC received a second law enforcement complaint on 07/06/2016, again alleging a number of violations. These included: a breach of the peace, possession of drugs on the premises, selling alcohol to an intoxicated patron, over-serving, and assaultive offenses.
While the investigation that followed did not manage to find any evidence to corroborate the allegations, it did find evidence of four counts of failure to report a breach of the peace. After handing down an unspecified penalty, authorities closed the case on 06/20/2017.
On 04/24/2017, a third law enforcement complaint claimed that a breach of the peace occurred.
TABC agents investigated, but after two months of work, they still had not found any evidence to back up the claim. With no other course of action available, authorities closed the case on 06/24/2017.
A second police complaint on 04/24/2017 accused the bar of permitting the possession of drugs on the premises and selling alcohol to an intoxicated patron.
Unsurprisingly, the investigation that followed was no more successful at proving a criminal or administrative violation than was the previous one. As a result, authorities concluded their efforts on 05/09/2017.
Staff contacted the TABC on 02/05/2019, claiming that the bar sold alcohol to an intoxicated patron. While it might seem strange that staff would be the source of a TABC complaint, employees have a legal obligation to report any violations they see in the workplace.
An investigation followed, but as is so often the case, authorities could not determine the veracity of the claim due to a lack of video evidence. Unable to take any further action, the TABC closed the case on 03/04/2019.
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.