Considering A Dram Shop Case Against Guitars & Cadillacs? 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.
Guitars & Cadillacs is a night club located in Amarillo, Texas. In recent years, it has attracted the attention of the TABC due to allegations of liquor law violations. Between 2015 and 2019, authorities conducted no fewer than six investigations into the club'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 Guitars & Cadillacs for possible criminal or administrative violations.
TABC Investigations of Guitars & Cadillacs Between 2015 and 2019
Amarillo - 3601 Olsen Boulevard
On 03/05/2015, a staff member filed a complaint with the TABC, alleging that the a breach of the peace (typically a fight) occurred. While it might seem strange that a staff member would be the source of a TABC complaint, employees have a legal obligation to report any violations they see in the workplace.
Authorities were not able to find any evidence to support the initial allegation, but they did uncover proof that the club sold alcohol to an intoxicated patron, which they classified as both an administrative and criminal violation. After deciding not to hand down any punishment, the TABC closed the case on 03/10/2015.
A concerned citizen contacted the TABC on 03/10/2015, claiming that a breach of the peace occurred.
The ensuing investigation was able to establish the validity of the claim, which authorities classified as an administrative violation. After handing down a written warning, the TABC closed the case without further action on 04/22/2015.
Law enforcement got in touch with the TABC on 01/13/2016, alleging that a breach of the peace took place which the bar failed to report (a separate violation in itself), and that the club sold alcohol to an obviously intoxicated person.
Upon investigation, authorities were able to confirm the third allegation, which they classified as an administrative violation. After deciding not to hand down any punishment, the TABC closed the case on 02/11/2016.
A second law enforcement complaint came on 11/29/2016, alleging that the club sold 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 12/27/2016.
Yet another law enforcement complaint, filed on 01/17/2018, accused the club of two counts of selling alcohol to an intoxicated customer.
As mentioned in the previous investigation summary, the TABC relies heavily on video footage to back up most claims of wrongdoing. Since authorities had no such evidence in this investigation, they could not take any action, leading to their decision to close the case on 08/04/2019.
The TABC received another complaint from law enforcement on 01/12/2019, claiming that the club sold alcohol to a drunk customer.
TABC agents conducted an inquiry, but due to a lack of video evidence, they could not determine the veracity of the claim. As a result, investigators could not take any further action, leading to their decision to close the case on 03/12/2019.
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.