Thinking of Filing A Dram Shop Lawsuit Against The Goat Blues Bar? Here's What You Should Know
As the founder of the law firm that's sued more bars for negligent over-service than anyone else in Texas, I'm probably more familiar with the extent of the problem than the average person. But I feel it's important that everyone know just how prevalent this behavior is, so I do my best to raise awareness using my online platform. As part of that effort, I occasionally look through the complaint records of the TABC and report my findings. If you have a potential Dram Shop case that you'd like to discuss, please call me at (855) 326-0000.
The Goat is a dive bar in Dallas, moderately popular for its cheap drinks and live music acts--primarily blues musicians, as well as regular karaoke nights. A quick browse of reviews for the establishment find complaints from non-regulars that they couldn't get service, and there are some troubling accusations of possible racial discrimination. Nevertheless, the bar rates pretty highly overall with its patrons.
As one might expect when a bar's description unironically includes the terms "dive" and "blues," The Goat has occasional trouble with the law. To say nothing of its run-ins with the Dallas Police Department, the bar has been investigated by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) for alcohol-related violations five times since 2014.
Note: Investigations are not guarantees of guilt. Just because a complaint was filed does not mean that The Goat actually violated alcohol-service laws. However, even if sufficient evidence of a violation is not found, that doesn't necessarily mean the bar is innocent--only that the allegation couldn't be proven. In order to make any claims stick, investigators have to find irrefutable evidence that there was a violation of Texas dram shop law. Due to the nature of the offenses, that proof can be difficult to find. All we're doing here is relaying publicly-available information about incidents where the TABC has investigated The Goat for possible criminal or administrative violations, not alleging any wrongdoing on their part.
TABC Investigations of The Goat Since 2016
The Goat operates only one location.
Dallas - 7248 Gaston Ave
2/14/2014: A concerned citizen reached out the TABC to complain that The Goat sold alcohol to an already-intoxicated person.
Over-serving people who are already intoxicated is a major problem addressed by Texas dram shop law. The law requires establishments to stop serving patrons when it's clear that they've had too much. Not every bar acts in accordance with that rule, and dram shop law punishes them for endangering the public.
TABC investigators don't appear to have found enough evidence to confirm that The Goat over-served an intoxicated person as indicated by the complaint. Unable to prove that such a violation happened, the agency closed the file without any punitive action on 4/12/2014.
5/30/2014: The TABC was informed by a citizen that a staff member at The Goat, officially a "Licensee/Permittee" per the language used on the agency's complaint forms, was intoxicated during the course of their duties at the bar.
Intoxicated bar employees aren't uncommon. It can happen for a variety of reasons; sometimes patrons want bartenders or servers to drink with them, and in the interest of stretching a bar tab, the servers comply. Other times a bartender may simply be allowed a few free or discounted drinks during the work day (or may simply help themselves to some of the bar's alcohol even if it's not specifically allowed).
The complaint form doesn't specify what the citizen witnessed that prompted the claim that an employee was drunk. No matter the original details, TABC investigators were unable to locate sufficient evidence to corroborate the claims of one or more intoxicated Permittees/Licensees. The complaint was closed without further action on 7/14/2014.
3/30/2017: Jumping ahead a few years, The Goat was brought to the TABC's attention by a citizen for allegedly serving alcohol to an intoxicated person, as well as another alleged incident involving an intoxicated employee.
TABC officers dutifully checked into both claims. After a two-month investigation, however, it does not appear they were able to confirm either allegation. Over-service is a difficult charge to make stick without strong corroborative evidence, like video footage or testimony from several witnesses. There are many excuses a bar can use for continuing to pour drinks when they should know better, and when things go wrong it's unlikely most establishments will cop to a violation that can't be independently proven.
Unable to prove the complaints and therefore unable to take punitive action, the TABC closed the file on 5/27/2017.
8/29/2017: A Dallas citizen complained to the TABC that The Goat either possessed or permitted possession of drugs on the premises. The same complaint also includes a claim that the bar served or sold alcohol to an intoxicated person.
TABC officers looked into the citizen's drug and over-service complaints but seem not to have found sufficient evidence to confirm either allegation. The complaint was closed without any punitive action against the bar on 10/14/2017.
6/11/2018: A patron of The Goat alerted the TABC to a potential violation in which the bar sold or served alcohol to an intoxicated person. In a more unique twist, the complaint also includes an allegation of "Lewd acts or exposure of person." The official complaint form doesn't go into any further detail about the alleged offense, but perhaps that's for the best this time.
Officers investigated the allegations of over-service and lewd conduct, but do not appear to have found what they would have needed to make either claim stick. The citizen's complaint was closed without disposition on 8/07/2018.
Texas Law Allows Victims of Over-service to Sue Bad Bars
If you're interested in learning more about Texas Dram Shop/liquor liability law, we encourage you to examine our comprehensive guide to the subject.