Considering A Dram Shop Case Against The Side Track Bar? Here's What You Need To Know
I have sued more bars for irresponsible alcohol service in the last thirty years than anyone else in Texas. Having handled hundreds of cases, I can attest to just how widespread the practice of over-serving customers is. While people might see or hear about drunk driving accidents from time to time, rarely do they hear about the role that reckless bars play in those accidents. In the interest of helping the general public see the real extent of this problem, I spend a portion of my time researching the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission's record of complaints and posting about my findings here on my website. If you think you might have a dram shop (liquor liability) case, don't hesitate to call me at (855) 326-0000.
The Side Track Bar is located in South Houston, Texas. In recent years, it has attracted a substantial amount of attention from the TABC due to allegations of liquor law violations. Between 2016 and 2019, authorities conducted no fewer than six investigations into the bar's alcohol service practices.
In my experience, it is 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 evidence that a bar has broken the law. Investigators must have sufficient proof that there was a violation of TABC regulations in order to take legal action. Owing to the nature of liquor law violations, that proof can often be difficult for authorities to obtain. The purpose of this article is simply to relay publicly-available information about incidents where the TABC has investigated The Side Track Bar for possible criminal or administrative violations.
TABC Investigations of The Side Track Bar Between 2016 and 2019
South Houston - 606 Houston Boulevard
On 03/14/2016, a concerned citizen filed a complaint with the TABC, alleging that staff sold alcohol to a drunk patron in addition to selling drugs on the premises.
TABC agents launched an inquiry, but did not find any evidence to back up either of the initial claims. However, they did manage to find evidence that the bar failed to report a breach of the peace (typically a fight), which they classified as an administrative violation. After handing down an unspecified penalty, they closed the case on 04/27/2016.
A member of the South Houston community filed a complaint on 07/06/2016, accusing the bar of selling alcohol to both a minor as well as an intoxicated patron. Additionally, the complaint alleged that a breach of he peace took place.
Authorities followed up soon after 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 action. In this particular instance, authorities had neither. As a result, the case came to a close on 07/06/2016.
On 08/31/2016, a citizen complaint brought the TABC back to investigate allegations that the bar sold alcohol to an intoxicated person and that a breach of the peace took place.
As stated in last investigation summary, the TABC relies heavily on video footage to back up most claims of wrongdoing. Since authorities had no such evidence in this investigation, they could not take any action. On 10/22/2016, they decided to wrap up their work on the case.
The TABC received a complaint from a staff member on 10/25/2016, alleging that staff was drinking on the job, sold alcohol to a drunk person, and that a breach of the peace occurred. While it might seem strange for a staff member to be the source of a TABC complaint, employees have a legal obligation to report any violations they see in the workplace.
Due to a lack of video evidence, authorities could not determine the veracity of the claims and could thus take no action. Consequently, they case came to an end on 12/20/2016.
Law enforcement contacted the TABC on 04/24/2019, alleging that the bar failed to report a breach of the peace.
Even when the source of a complaint is a police officer, TABC agents still require corroborating evidence before they can take action. Since authorities had none on this particular occasion, they closed the case on 06/20/2019.
Another law enforcement complaint came on 08/09/2019, alleging that a breach of the peace took place.
Once again, authorities were unable to find any corroborating evidence and could not move forward with the investigation. On 08/27/2019, the case concluded without further action.
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.