Considering A Dram Shop Case Against Tonic? Here's What You Need To Know
My firm has handled more liquor liability (dram shop) cases than anyone else in Texas. With over 30 years of practice behind me, I can attest to just how many bars regularly fail to adhere to alcohol service laws, particularly when it comes to their obligation to refuse service to patrons who are already drunk. While the public might see or hear about a drunk driving accident from time to time, it is much less common for it to hear about the role that irresponsible bars play in those accidents. In order to increase people's awareness of this problem, I dedicate a portion of my time to researching the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission's complaint database and reporting 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.
Tonic is a bar located in San Antonio, Texas. In recent years, it has attracted the TABC's attention on a number of occasions due to allegations of liquor law violations. Between 2017 and 2019, authorities conducted four investigations into the bar's alcohol service practices.
In my experience, it's 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 proof of wrongdoing. However, if authorities investigate and fail to find evidence of a violation, 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 Tonic for possible criminal or administrative violations.
TABC Investigations of Tonic Between 2017 and 2019
San Antonio - 5500 Babcock Road #117
On 06/13/2017, a concerned citizen filed a complaint with the TABC, alleging that staff was drinking on the job, selling drugs on the premises, and allowed customers to consume alcohol during prohibited hours. The first allegation is more serious than it might appear on the surface. Staff has a legal obligation to stop serving alcohol to customers who exhibit signs of being dangerously intoxicated. If staff itself is drinking, its ability to judge when to cut off service is impaired.
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 investigation, authorities had neither, which led to their decision to close the case without further action on 02/12/2018.
Law enforcement contacted the TABC on 02/09/2018, claiming that a breach of the peace (typically a fight) took place, and that the bar failed to report it.
Upon investigation, TABC agents were able to find evidence to corroborate the claim, which they classified as an administrative violation. After issuing a written warning, authorities shut the case on 02/22/2018.
A second law enforcement complaint on 07/12/2019 brought the TABC back to investigate once more. This time, the allegation was that the bar refused an inspection.
The ensuing investigation found evidence the bar not only refused an inspection, but also failed to report a breach of the peace. Rather than punishing the bar, authorities issued two written warnings before closing the case on 09/11/2019.
A member of the San Antonio community reached out to the TABC on 10/08/2019, alleging that the bar sold alcohol to an intoxicated person.
Due to a lack of video evidence, investigators could not determine the veracity of the claim. Unable to take any action, they closed the case on 12/06/2019.
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.