Considering A Dram Shop Case Against Montana's Steakhouse and Saloon? 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.
Founded in 2007, Montana's Steakhouse & Saloon is located in Splendora, Texas. Locals know it for offering everything from steak nights and a full bar to billiards tables and DJ sets. Through the years, the TABC has also come to know Montana's Steakhouse & Saloon due to a number of complaints alleging liquor law violations there. Between 2015 and 2018, authorities conducted no fewer than five investigations into the bar's alcohol service practices.
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 Montana's Steakhouse & Saloon for possible criminal or administrative violations.
TABC Investigations of Montana's Steakhouse & Saloon Between 2015 and 2018
Splendora - 15361 1st Street
On 07/22/2015, law enforcement contacted the TABC and alleged that a breach of the peace (typically a fight) took place.
Authorities looked into the matter, finding sufficient evidence to prove that two administrative violations occurred: a breach of the peace and a failure to report the breach. After issuing citations and handing down unspecified penalties, the TABC closed this case on 10/17/2015.
A member of staff reached out to the TABC on 05/31/2016 and claimed that another breach of the peace had taken place. While the source of the complaint might seem odd, staff is in fact legally obligated to report any violations it sees.
This time, investigators were unable to determine the veracity of the claim and therefore unable to take any action. On 07/24/2016, the case came to a close.
On 10/31/2017, a staff member complaint led to a further TABC investigation. This time, the allegations were that the bar sold alcohol to an intoxicated patron and that a breach of the peace took place.
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 any action. Having neither in this particular instance, investigators ended their work on the case on 12/19/2017.
A law enforcement complaint, filed 05/03/2018, charged the bar with permitting a member of staff to sell or possess drugs on the premises.
An investigation ensued, but lacking video evidence of the alleged incident, authorities could not determine its veracity. Even when the source of a complaint is a cop, it does not count as evidence of wrongdoing in the eyes of the TABC. As a result, the case closed without further action on 05/30/2018.
A member of the Splendora community made a complaint on 10/11/2018, alleging that the bar both delivered alcohol to a patron who was already over the limit and permitted gambling on the premises.
Once again, authorities investigated the claims, but were unable to turn up any hard proof of a violation. Thus, on 12/09/2018, the investigation ended.
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.