Considering A Dram Shop Case Against Beer Goggles? Here's What You Need To Know
I've been suing irresponsible bars for over-serving alcohol for 30 years. My experience handling hundreds of cases has repeatedly shown me just how many bars fail to follow alcohol service regulations, as well as the tragedies that all too often result. While people might see or hear about a drunk driving accident from time to time, they don't tend to hear about the role that reckless bars play in those accidents. In order to call more attention to this issue, I dedicate a portion of my time to reviewing the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission's complaint records 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, don't hesitate to call me at (855) 326-0000.
Beer Goggles is a pub located in Live Oak, Texas. While it has proven popular with locals for its laid back atmosphere, it has also managed to attract a significant amount of attention from the TABC in recent years due to a number of complaints alleging liquor law violations. Between 2017 and 2019, authorities conducted no fewer than six investigations into alcohol service practices at Beer Goggles.
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 cause 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 Beer Goggles for possible criminal or administrative violations.
TABC Investigations of Beer Goggles Between 2017 and 2019
Live Oak - 12702 Toepperwein Suite 101
On 01/25/2017, a concerned citizen filed a complaint with the TABC, alleging that the bar sold alcohol to a minor and allowed staff to sell or possess drugs on the premises.
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 01/25/2017.
The TABC received another citizen complaint on 08/15/2017, alleging that the bar sold alcohol to an intoxicated patron.
While authorities did not find any evidence to support the claim, they did manage to find evidence that the bar failed to report a breach of the peace (typically a fight). After issuing a written warning for an administrative violation, TABC agents closed the case on 10/27/2017.
Law enforcement contacted the TABC on 07/18/2018, charging that the bar sold alcohol to an intoxicated person and that staff was drinking on the job. The second allegation is more serious than it might appear at first glance. Staff has a legal obligation to stop serving alcohol to patrons who exhibit signs of being dangerously intoxicated. If staff itself is intoxicated, its ability to judge when to stop serving is impaired.
The ensuing investigation was able to prove that staff was indeed drinking on the job. However, authorities chose to issue a warning rather than hand out any punishment for the violation. On 10/04/2018, the TABC ended its work on the case.
A further law enforcement complaint reached the TABC on 08/08/2018, alleging that the bar sold alcohol to a patron who was already drunk.
Due to a lack of video evidence, authorities were unable to determine the veracity of the claim. Consequently, investigators ended their work on the case without any further action on 10/03/2018.
On 01/05/2019, law enforcement filed a complaint that accused the bar of permitting a minor to possess or consume alcohol, selling alcohol to a minor, a breach of the peace, failure to report a breach of the peace, and staff drinking on the job.
Investigators looked into the matter and found evidence to support four of the claims. For some reason, authorities again chose not to hand down any penalty for the violations. On 03/12/2019, authorities ended their work on the case.
Law enforcement contacted the TABC once more on 06/25/2019, claiming that the bar permitted a minor to purchase and either possess or consume alcohol.
In spite of the fact that the source of the complaint was a police officer, the TABC cannot take action without video evidence or testimony from one of its own agents. Since the TABC did not have either of these, it had no choice but to shut the case, which it did on 09/30/2019.
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.