Considering A Dram Shop Case Against Sam's Boat? Here's What You Need To Know
For the last 30 years, I have made it my job to hold bars accountable for irresponsible alcohol service. The hundreds of cases I have handled have allowed me to see the real extent of alcohol over-service, not to mention the tragedies that all too often follow in its wake. While everyone knows that drunk driving is a threat to public safety, most people don't give much thought to the part played by bars that keep serving booze to their customers even once they become obviously intoxicated. In hopes of drawing more attention to this issue, I dedicate some of my time to reviewing the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission's complaint records 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 me at (855) 326-0000.
Sam's Boat is a small chain of restaurants that began in Houston in 1977. From its humble origins in an old house on Richmond Avenue, it slowly grew to include six locations around Texas. Its popular mix of Tex-Mex and seafood has spurred its expansion, with plans in the works for franchises across the south-east. However, it hasn't all been smooth sailing; over just two years, TABC investigated Sam's Boat locations for alleged liquor law violations a combined total of five times, with three in 2017 alone.
Experience has shown me that bars with a history of TABC investigations are far more likely to be involved in a wrongful death or injury case than bars that have never been investigated. Almost every bar I have sued had already attracted the authorities' attention at some point. When I see a bar with multiple investigations over a short time, it raises my concern 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, 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 Sam's Boat for possible criminal or administrative violations.
TABC Investigations of Sam's Boat Locations Between 2017 and 2018
Houston - 5720 Richmond Avenue
On 01/31/2017, TABC received a law enforcement complaint alleging that staff at this location sold alcohol to an obviously intoxicated person.
Even though TABC had a cop's word that a violation took place, it was unable to turn up any evidence to corroborate it. Liquor law violations are next to impossible to prove without video footage of the incident or eyewitness testimony from a TABC agent. In this particular case, authorities had neither, so they decided to close the case on 03/21/2017.
Not even three months later, TABC was investigating this location again. This time, a law enforcement complaint alleged that staff sold alcohol to a minor as well as to an obviously intoxicated patron.
The ensuing investigation was no more successful than the previous one, with agents failing to locate proof of either claim. Unable to take any further action, they ended their work on this case on 05/22/2017.
The following year, on 08/08/2018, a concerned citizen filed a complaint that claimed this location again sold alcohol to a person who was clearly drunk.
Authorities looked into the matter but could not find sufficient evidence of a criminal or administrative violation to issue a citation. With no other course of action available, they closed this case on 09/13/2018.
Cypress - 9955 Barker Cypress Suite 100
A citizen complaint, filed on 09/25/2017, claimed that staff sold alcohol to an underage patron.
TABC looked into the matter, but it could not establish the veracity of the claim. Unable to take further action, authorities closed this case on 10/11/2017.
On 10/23/2018, a concerned member of the Cypress community lodged a complaint with TABC, alleging once more that this location sold alcohol to minor.
Lacking video footage to back up the claim, authorities were unable to find any evidence of wrongdoing. As a result, TABC closed the case on 11/09/2018.
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.