Considering A Dram Shop Case Against Huebel's Bier Garden? 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.
Founded in 1945, Huebel's Bier Garden is a bar located in Smithsville, Texas. In recent years, it has attracted a substantial amount of attention from the TABC due to a number of allegations of liquor law violations. Between 2016 and 2018, authorities conducted four separate investigations into alcohol service practices at Huebel's Bier Garden.
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 Huebel's Bier Garden for possible criminal or administrative violations.
TABC Investigations of Huebel's Bier Garden Between 2016 and 2018
Smithsville - 207 W 2nd Street
On 02/19/2016, the TABC received a complaint from a concerned citizen who alleged that staff was drinking on the job. This type of 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.
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 04/07/2016.
A member of the Smithsville community filed a complaint with the TABC on 02/19/2016, again alleging that staff was drinking on the job.
Just like in the previous investigation, authorities could not find sufficient evidence of wrongdoing to take any action. As a result, they decided to close the case on 04/07/2016.
The next complaint came from a concerned citizen on 01/24/2017, alleging that the bar sold alcohol to an intoxicated person.
As mentioned in the first investigation summary, the TABC relies heavily on video footage to back up most claims of wrongdoing. Since investigators did not have any such evidence, they could not determine the validity of the claim. On 03/03/2017, they concluded their efforts and closed the case.
Another citizen complaint came on 07/11/2017, accusing that the bar sold alcohol to a minor, permitted the possession of drugs on the premises, and that a breach of the peace (typically a fight) occurred.
Due to a lack of video evidence, authorities could not establish the validity of the accusations. With no other course of action available, they closed the case on 10/02/2017.
The TABC came back to investigate once again after receiving a citizen complaint on 08/20/2018, alleging that the bar allowed gambling on the premises.
An inquiry into the matter followed, but authorities could not find any substantiating evidence. On 10/17/2018, they brought the case to a close without any further action.
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.