Considering A Dram Shop Case Against Chill? Here's What You Need To Know
Over the last 30 years, I've worked to hold reckless bars accountable for over-serving alcohol. My experience handling hundreds of cases has opened my eyes to just how many bars consistently fail to follow alcohol service regulations. 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 irresponsible bars play in those accidents. Since most people don't do what I do for a living, I make an effort to share my insights in hopes of calling more attention to this issue. One way I do this is by periodically reviewing Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission 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, please call me at (855) 326-0000.
Chill is a sports bar and grill with locations in both Grapevine and Lewisville, Texas. Many of its patrons simply come to grab a bite and watch a game, but the bar also offers a variety of entertainment options, such as trivia and bingo nights, as well as live bands and DJs for dancing. While Chill has made a name for itself locally, it has also managed to attract quite a bit of attention from the TABC due to a number of recent complaints alleging liquor law violations. Between 2015 and 2019, authorities conducted no fewer than seven 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 Chill for possible criminal or administrative violations.
TABC Investigations of Chill Between 2015 and 2019
Grapevine - 814 S Main Street
On 03/23/2015, a concerned citizen filed a complaint with the TABC alleging that staff at the bar sold drugs on the premises.
Authorities carried out an investigation soon thereafter, but they were unable to find any hard evidence to back up the claim. With no other course of action available, investigators decided to close the case on 05/12/2015.
A law enforcement agent contacted the TABC on 09/07/2015, claiming that a breach of the peace (typically a fight) took place, and that the bar failed to report it (a separate violation in itself).
After around three weeks of investigation, TABC agents failed to find any evidence capable of backing up the claims. Even the word of a police officer is considered insufficient evidence for the TABC to issue a citation. As a result, the investigation concluded on 09/30/2015 without any further action.
On 09/29/2015, a second law enforcement complaint brought the TABC back to investigate. This time, the allegation was for selling alcohol to a patron under the age of 21.
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 11/24/2015.
Yet another law enforcement complaint, dated 04/19/2018, set off an investigation into the charge that a staff member was intoxicated on the job. This kind of 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 the staff itself has been drinking, its ability to judge when to cut off service is compromised.
Upon investigating, authorities were able to find corroborating evidence and determined that both a criminal and administrative violation occurred. Though the bar was not punished, it was issued two citations, after which authorities closed the case on 05/25/2018.
The next complaint came from an anonymous source on 07/02/2018, and alleged that the bar sold alcohol to a customer who was already over the limit.
After looking into the matter, authorities were unable to substantiate the claim. However, they did discover that the bar made alcohol available to an underage patron and permitted the minor to possess or consume alcohol. After issuing citations and handing down suitable punishment, TABC agents closed the case on 08/06/2018.
On 12/12/2018, law enforcement got in touch with the TABC and alleged that the bar sold alcohol to both a minor and an intoxicated person.
The subsequent investigation did not uncover any evidence capable of supporting the claims. As stated previously, the TABC relies heavily on video evidence to determine whether or not a violation occurred. Consequently, the investigation came to a close on 01/15/2019 with authorities taking no further action.
A law enforcement complaint dating back to 06/13/2019 charged the bar with failing to report a breach of the peace and selling alcohol to an intoxicated patron.
TABC agents could not prove the first claim, but they did manage to locate supporting evidence of the second. Though they handed down no punishment, authorities did issue two citations. On 07/20/2019, authorities closed this case.
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.