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Considering A Dram Shop Case Against Lincoln Bar and Kitchen? Here's What You Need To Know

I've been holding reckless bars accountable for over-serving alcohol for 30 years. In the hundreds of cases I have handled, I have repeatedly seen just how common this practice is, as well as the terrible tragedies that often follow in its wake. Everyone knows that drunk drivers are a threat to public safety, but people don't tend to hear much about the bars that routinely over-serve their customers, or the role those bars play in drunk driving accidents. In order to raise more awareness of this issue, I regularly research the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission's complaint records and report 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.

Lincoln Bar and Kitchen is a combination between a patio-bar and a fusion restaurant. Located on Houston's busy Washington Avenue, it packs in large crowds who come for the Southwestern-style food, DJ sets, live music, and the daily happy-hours during the week. In addition to attracting a steady clientele, it has also managed to attract quite a bit of attention from the TABC. Over just three years, agents have investigated Lincoln Bar and Kitchen on nine separate occasions for allegations of liquor law violations.

In my experience, it is uncommon for a bar that has no previous history of TABC investigations to end up involved in a dram shop case. Almost every bar I've sued was already on the authorities' radar. That's why I pay close attention to bars with multiple recent complaints on record. The more investigations a bar has had, the more concerned I become that it could one day play a part in a wrongful death or injury.

I want to emphasize that an investigation does not mean a bar did anything illegal. At the same time, if authorities investigate and fail to find evidence of wrongdoing, that does not mean that a bar is necessarily innocent, either. Given the nature of liquor law violations, it can be difficult for authorities to uncover the evidence necessary for a conviction. What follows is simply a list of complaints against Lincoln Bar and Kitchen obtained from TABC's database.

TABC Investigations of Lincoln Bar and Kitchen Between 2016 and 2019


Houston - 5110 Washington Avenue

Allegations:

On 03/09/2016, a concerned citizen reported that bar staff sold alcohol to a patron who was already intoxicated and that a breach of the peace (typically a fight) occurred.

Authorities investigated, but after nearly a month of work, they failed to locate any evidence of wrongdoing. It is important to note that TABC needs either video footage of a violation or eyewitness testimony from one of its agents in order to take legal action. Having neither in this particular instance, TABC decided to close the case on 04/04/2016.

A few months later, on 07/01/2016, yet another citizen complaint alleged that a breach of the peace occurred and that staff sold alcohol to an intoxicated customer.

The ensuing investigation was no more successful at turning up hard evidence than the last one was. As a result, authorities concluded their efforts on 08/05/2016 without taking further action.

A third complaint, this time from law enforcement, came on 02/02/2018. It charged the bar with selling alcohol to a minor and selling to an intoxicated person.

TABC agents could not determine the veracity of the claims, most likely due to a lack of video evidence. For this reason, they chose to close the case on 04/17/2018.

On 12/04/2017, a member of the Houston community lodged a complaint alleging an aggravated breach of the peace took place.

Not surprisingly, authorities again failed to find sufficient proof of a violation to take legal action. Thus, the investigation concluded on 12/14/2017.

Just ten days after the previous complaint, on 12/14/2017, a concerned citizen reported that staff allegedly served alcohol to a drunk patron.

This time, authorities were able to produce sufficient evidence to corroborate the claim. After issuing a notice of an administrative violation and handing down an unspecified penalty, TABC ended its work on the case on 1/13/2018.

On 06/13/2018, law enforcement submitted a complaint that claimed the bar failed to report a breach of the peace.

Even when a law enforcement officer is the source of an allegation, TABC still needs either video evidence of the incident or eyewitness testimony in order to take action. In this case, authorities had neither, so they shut the case on 06/17/2018.

A citizen complaint, dated 07/18/2018, charged that staff sold alcohol to a patron who was already over the limit.

As in the majority of the other investigations on this list, TABC could not prove the allegation due to a lack of video evidence. With no other course of action available, the case concluded on 10/05/2018.

The next allegation of a violation came on 02/04/2019, with an unnamed citizen again claiming that the bar sold alcohol to a drunk customer.

The subsequent inquiry into the matter found no proof capable of standing up in court, and as a result, the case closed without further action on 04/26/2019.

The last complaint on our list is dated 05/06/2019. A concerned citizen alleged that a staff member was drinking on the job and the bar sold alcohol to an inebriated patron.

The first of the two allegations is more serious than it might appear. Part of the bar staff's job is to look out for signs of intoxication and stop providing alcohol to customers who have had enough. If the staff itself is intoxicated, its ability to perform this essential function is compromised. However, in this particular case, TABC could not find sufficient evidence to prove that either of the alleged violations occurred. Consequently, it closed this case on 06/04/2019.

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.