Considering A Dram Shop Claim Against Rivera's Restaurant? 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.
Rivera's Restaurant is located in McKinney, Texas, and is known locally for offering homestyle Salvadoran cuisine. Though it has established a good reputation for the quality of its food, it has also attracted a substantial amount of attention from the TABC over the years due to a number of complaints alleging liquor law violations. Between 2015 and 2018 alone, authorities conducted no fewer than six investigations into alcohol service practices at Rivera's Restaurant.
In my experience, it is rare for a bar without a prior history of TABC investigations to be 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 Rivera's Restaurant for possible criminal or administrative violations.
TABC Investigations of Rivera's Restaurant Between 2015 and 2018
McKinney - 1321 N Tennessee Suite 100
On 09/30/2015, the TABC received a law enforcement complaint alleging that the restaurant failed to report a breach of the peace (typically a fight) and sold alcohol to both an intoxicated person and a minor.
Authorities looked into the matter, but they only found sufficient evidence to support the first allegation, which it classified as an administrative violation. After handing down an unspecified penalty, the TABC closed this case on 11/10/2015.
A second law enforcement complaint, filed on 10/20/2016, charged that staff sold alcohol to a drunk customer.
The ensuing investigation was unable to determine the veracity of the claim. 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; even the word of a police officer is not enough. As a result, the case came to a close on 12/06/2016.
Law enforcement contacted the TABC again on 05/23/2017, charging that the restaurant allowed a minor to possess or consume alcohol.
After over a month of investigation, authorities failed to uncover sufficient evidence to confirm the claim. Unable to take any further action, investigators wrapped up their work on this case on 06/29/2017.
On 11/23/2017, an anonymous source reached out to the TABC and accused the restaurant of four violations: selling alcohol to a minor, an intoxicated customer, and during prohibited hours, as well as a breach of the peace.
Due to a lack of video evidence, authorities were not able to substantiate the allegations. With no other course of action available, TABC agents closed the investigation on 01/05/2018.
The next complaint came from a law enforcement officer on 06/29/2018, alleging that the restaurant failed to report a breach of the peace and sold alcohol to an intoxicated patron.
As stated previously, the TABC relies heavily on video evidence to confirm most allegations. Lacking such evidence in this particular instance, investigators had no choice but to shut the case on 08/19/2018.
Yet another law enforcement complaint, filed on 10/15/2018, alleged that a breach of the peace took place and that the restaurant neglected to report it.
TABC agents launched an inquiry, but they could not locate any evidence capable of standing up in court. Consequently, the investigation concluded without further action on 12/20/2018.
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.