Considering A Dram Shop Case Against The Wellhead Tavern? Here's What You Need To Know
I've sued more reckless bars for failing to adhere to liquor laws than anyone else in the state of Texas. With three decades of experience and hundreds of cases behind me, I have seen just how frequently bars put profit before safety and over-serve alcohol, in spite of their legal obligation to serve responsibly. While people might see or hear of drunk driving accidents from time to time, they don't tend to hear as much about the role that irresponsible bars play in those accidents. In order to raise more awareness of this topic, I spend a portion of my time researching the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission's complaint database and writing about my findings here on my website. If you think you might have a dram shop (liquor liability) claim, don't hesitate to call my office at (855) 326-0000.
The Wellhead Tavern is located in Victoria, Texas. In recent years, it has attracted a significant amount of attention from the TABC due to allegations of liquor law violations. Between 2016 and 2018, authorities conducted five investigations into the bar's alcohol service practices.
In my three decades of legal practice, rarely have I seen bar end up involved in a wrongful death or injury case that didn't have a history of complaints on file with TABC. Almost every bar I've ever sued was already on the authorities radar, so when I see a bar that has been investigated several times over a short period, it raises my concern that it could one day play a part in 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 The Wellhead Tavern for possible criminal or administrative violations.
TABC Investigations of The Wellhead Tavern Between 2016 and 2018
Victoria - 23404 Nw Zac Lentz Parkway
Law enforcement contacted the TABC on 05/24/2016, accusing the bar of selling alcohol to an intoxicated person.
Authorities looked into the matter shortly thereafter. 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. Having neither in this investigation, authorities decided to close the case on 08/24/2016.
An anonymous complaint, filed on 12/01/2016, claimed the bar sold alcohol to a drunk patron, in addition to other miscellaneous violations.
As mentioned in the previous investigation summary, the TABC relies heavily on video footage to back up most claims of wrongdoing. Since they had none in this investigation, they could not take any action, resulting in their decision to close the case on 01/31/2017.
On 02/03/2017, law enforcement submitted a TABC complaint, alleging that the bar sold alcohol to an inebriated patron.
Due to a lack of video evidence, authorities could not determine the veracity of the claim. With no other course of action available, investigators ended their work on the case on 08/04/2017.
A member of the Victoria community reached out to the TABC on 08/03/2018, claiming that staff was drinking on the job and sold alcohol to a drunk person. The first 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 staff is drinking, its ability to judge when to cut off service is impaired.
As is so often the case, investigators couldn't find any evidence to back up the claims. Unable to proceed, they closed the case on 09/23/2018.
On 09/26/2018, the TABC received a complaint from law enforcement, alleging the bar again sold alcohol to a patron who was already intoxicated.
Just as in the other investigations, authorities had no corroborating evidence. Left with no alternative, they concluded their work on 02/28/2018.
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.