Considering A Dram Shop Case Against Back Room Bar? 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.
Back Room Bar is located in Grand Prairie, Texas. With a long history of business, the bar has been popular with local patrons since it opened back in 1961. Over the years, however, Back Room Bar has had its share of encounters with the TABC due to a number of complaints alleging liquor law violations. Between 2015 and 2017 alone, authorities conducted no fewer than six 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 Back Room Bar for possible criminal or administrative violations.
TABC Investigations of Back Room Bar Between 2015 and 2017
Grand Prairie - 2314 Houston Street
On 06/01/2015, the TABC received a citizen complaint alleging numerous violations. Among them were: a breach of the peace (typically a fight), failure to report a breach of the peace, permitting the possession of drugs on the premises, selling alcohol to a drunk person, and staff drinking on the job. The last of these allegations 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 the staff itself is drinking, its ability to judge when to stop serving is impaired.
TABC agents looked into the matter, but did not find any evidence to back up the claims. However, they did issue two written warnings for other administrative violations they found during the investigation. On 07/29/2015, authorities closed this case.
A concerned citizen filed a complaint with the TABC on 01/08/2015, claiming that staff was drinking on the job.
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 11/22/2015.
A member of the Grand Prairie community reached out to the TABC on 07/14/2016, alleging again that staff was drinking on the job.
The subsequent investigation was no more successful at finding corroborating evidence than the previous one. Unable to take any further action, authorities closed this case on 08/31/2016.
On 01/11/2017, yet another citizen complaint alleged that staff was intoxicated.
On this occasion, investigators had luck and were able to prove the allegation, which they classified as an administrative violation. After issuing a citation and handing down an unspecified penalty, authorities shut the case on 02/18/2017.
Once again, on 03/28/2017, the TABC was back to investigate again after receiving a complaint claiming staff was drunk.
Due to a lack of video evidence, investigators were unable to determine the veracity of the allegation. As a result, on 05/20/2017, they closed the case without taking any further action.
A complaint filed on 07/17/2017 claimed that the bar permitted the possession of drugs on the premises, that staff was drinking on the job, and that the bar allowed possession of an uninvoiced alcoholic beverage.
While the subsequent investigation failed to find any evidence to back up the allegations, it did find a separate administrative violation, for which it issued a written warning. On 08/29/2017, the case concluded.
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.