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Considering A Dram Shop Case Against Smokehouse Restaurant? Here's What You Need To Know

My firm has sued more bars for liquor law violations than any other in Texas. In my over 30 years of experience, I have repeatedly seen just how serious the consequences can be when bars over-serve alcohol. While the public might see or hear about a drunk driving accident from time to time, it's much less common to hear about the role that irresponsible bars play in those accidents. One of my goals is to raise awareness about the extent of this problem. To this end, I dedicate some of my time to investigating Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission complaint records and reporting what I find here on my website. If you think you might have a dram shop (liquor liability) claim and would like to learn about how to proceed, please call me at (855) 326-0000.

Smokehouse Restaurant is located in Perryton, 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 restaurant's alcohol service practices.

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 Smokehouse Restaurant for possible criminal or administrative violations.

TABC Investigations of Smokehouse Restaurant Between 2015 and 2019


Perryton - 210 SE 24th Ave

Allegations:

Law enforcement contacted the TABC on 01/21/2015, claiming that the restaurant sold alcohol to both a minor and an intoxicated person.

Authorities looked into the matter shortly thereafter. Even when the source of a complaint is a police officer, 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 02/24/2015.

On 03/03/2015, a concerned citizen filed a complaint with the TABC, alleging that staff was drinking on the job and allowed customers to both purchase and consume alcohol during prohibited hours. The first allegation is more serious than it might appear on the surface. Staff has a legal obligation to stop serving alcohol to patrons who exhibit signs of being dangerously intoxicated. If staff is drinking, its ability to judge when to cut off service is impaired.

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 04/10/2015.

The TABC received a second law enforcement complaint on 12/08/2015, claiming that the restaurant sold alcohol to a drunk person and that a breach of the peace (typically a fight) occurred, which the bar failed to report (a separate violation in itself).

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 01/31/2016.

A third law enforcement complaint, filed on 04/20/2016, brought the TABC back to investigate allegations that the restaurant permitted customers to consume alcohol during prohibited hours and that a breach of the peace took place.

Upon investigation, authorities were able to confirm that the restaurant failed to report a breach of the peace, which they classified as an administrative violation. After issuing a written warning, the TABC decided to close the case on 05/18/2016.

Yet another law enforcement complaint came on 10/18/2018, accusing staff of drinking on the job and alleging that a breach of the peace occurred.

As in the previous investigation, authorities managed to determine that the restaurant failed to report a breach of the peace, for which they issued a second warning. On 01/15/2019, the TABC concluded its work on the case.

A staff member contacted the TABC on 08/02/2019, claiming that a breach of the peace took place. 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.

The case remained open for two months, but authorities were ultimately unable to produce any hard evidence of a criminal or administrative violation. Consequently, they could not take any action and thus decided to end their investigation on 10/02/2019.

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.