Considering A Dram Shop Case Against Isla Bonita? 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.
Isla Bonita is a sports bar and night club located in Galveston, Texas. Known locally as a great spot for dancing, the bar also offers a variety of shows and has established a strong clientele. Over the years though, Isla Bonita has also attracted the attention of the TABC due to complaints against it alleging liquor law violations. Between 2017 and 2018, authorities conducted four separate 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 Isla Bonita for possible criminal or administrative violations.
TABC Investigations of Isla Bonita Between 2017 and 2018
Galveston - 4102 Broadway
A law enforcement officer lodged a complaint with the TABC on 04/26/2017, alleging that staff at the bar was drinking on the job. This type of allegation is more serious than it might appear on the surface. Staff has a legal obligation to stop serving alcohol to patrons who exhibit signs of being dangerously intoxicated. If the staff is itself intoxicated, its ability to perform this essential function is compromised.
Authorities followed up soon thereafter with an investigation. 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 legal action. In this particular instance, investigators had neither, so they decided to close the case on 06/22/2017.
On 08/16/2017, the TABC received a complaint from a concerned citizen alleging that the bar sold alcohol to a patron under the age of 21.
The ensuing investigation did not turn up any evidence of a criminal or administrative violation. As a result, authorities stopped working on this case on 10/15/2017, without taking any further action.
Before the previous case concluded, the TABC received a complaint from law enforcement that brought about another investigation on 10/08/2018. This time, the allegations were a breach of the peace (typically a fight) and a failure to report the breach of the peace (itself a separate violation).
TABC agents looked into the matter, but they were unable to locate any proof of wrongdoing. Having no other course of action, authorities wrapped up their investigation on 10/18/2018.
Another law enforcement complaint, filed on 10/08/2018, charged the bar with selling alcohol to a minor.
Authorities investigated and found sufficient evidence to determine an administrative violation took place. After handing down an unspecified penalty, the TABC shut the case on 11/12/2018.
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.