What You Need to Know If You Are Considering a Dram Shop Case Against Lola's Depot
In the three decades that I've been suing irresponsible bars for over-serving alcohol, I have handled hundreds of cases. My experience has repeatedly shown me just how many bars fail to follow alcohol service regulations, as well as the tragedies that all too often result. 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.
Lola's Depot is a popular dive bar in Houston's Montrose neighborhood. In 2010, readers of Houston Press voted it the best bar in Montrose. In addition to the reputation it has established with locals, it has also managed to attract the TABC's attention on several occasions in recent years. Between 2016 and 2019, Lola's Depot was investigated a total of five times - a staggering figure for such a small operation. In 2019, TABC even received two separate complaints on the same day!
Out of all the bars I have sued, only a few have not had a history of complaints against them in TABC's records. When I see a bar that has been investigated several times in a short time span, I pay close attention. While such bars might not go on to contribute to an accident in the future, experience tells me they are far more likely to do so than bars with no prior TABC investigations.
Before moving on, I want to emphasize that an investigation does not mean that a bar did anything illegal. Conversely, if authorities investigate and determine that the establishment is not in violation of TABC code, that does not mean that the alleged violation did not take place. Given the nature of liquor law violations, it can often be exceedingly difficult to obtain the evidence necessary for a conviction. We are simply reporting the locations that were put on the TABC's radar for one reason or another by concerned citizens and law enforcement agencies.
TABC Investigations of Lola's Depot Since 2016
Houston - 2327 Grant Street
The first of the five complaints dates back to 06/07/2016. A concerned citizen alleged that the bar served alcohol during prohibited hours and permitted patrons to possess drugs on the premises.
An investigation ensued but did not uncover any definitive proof. TABC subsequently concluded the case on 08/28/2016.
The second citizen complaint, placed on 06/19/2017, is remarkable. It alleges four separate TABC violations on the same day: permitting the possession of drugs on premises, sale of alcohol to an intoxicated patron, employees drinking on the job, and sale of alcohol during prohibited hours.
Out of the four charges, authorities were only able to find sufficient evidence to make one stick. However, the report does not specify how the bar was punished for over-selling alcohol. TABC wrapped up its work on this case on 08/11/2017.
On 03/16/2018, a member of the Houston community filed a third complaint that claimed the bar allowed patrons to possess drugs. Authorities followed up with an investigation.
After two months, TABC could not produce any hard evidence that a criminal or administrative violation took place. Thus, on 05/17/2018, it ended its efforts without further action.
Staff filed the last two complaints on 07/11/2019. One alleged a breach of the peace (most likely a fight) occurred, while the second claimed that the bar sold alcohol to a patron who was already over the limit.
Authorities looked into the matter but could not substantiate either claim. The first complaint file closed soon thereafter, on 07/24/2019, while the second complaint file remained open until 11/08/2019.
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.