Considering A Dram Shop Case Against Sugar's? Here's What You Need To Know
I've been suing irresponsible bars for over-serving alcohol for 30 years. My experience handling hundreds of cases has repeatedly shown me just how many bars fail to follow alcohol service regulations, as well as the tragedies that all too often result. While people might see or hear about a drunk driving accident from time to time, they don't tend to hear about the role that reckless bars play in those accidents. In order to call more attention to this issue, I dedicate a portion of my time to reviewing the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission's 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, don't hesitate to call me at (855) 326-0000.
Sugar's is an adult entertainment club located in San Antonio, Texas. In recent years, it has attracted a significant amount of attention from the TABC due to allegations of liquor law violations. Between 2015 and 2019, authorities conducted no fewer than eight investigations into the club's alcohol service practices.
In my experience, it is 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 cause 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 Sugar's for possible criminal or administrative violations.
TABC Investigations of Sugar's Between 2015 and 2019
San Antonio - 2731 Loop 410 Northwest
On 01/13/2015, the TABC received a complaint from a concerned citizen, alleging that the bar allowed a minor to purchase and consume alcohol, in addition to permitting the possession of drugs on the premises.
Authorities conducted an inquiry shortly thereafter. 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 investigation, authorities had neither, leading to their decision to close the case on 02/11/2015.
Law enforcement contacted the TABC on 09/17/2015, claiming that a breach of the peace (typically a fight) occurred, and that the bar failed to report it. Additionally, the complaint alleged that the bar sold alcohol to an intoxicated patron and allowed a customer to take alcohol from the premises.
As mentioned in the first investigation summary, the TABC relies heavily on video footage to back up most claims of wrongdoing. Having no such evidence in this investigation, authorities could not take any action. As a result, they chose to end their work on the case on 10/29/2015.
A member of the San Antonio community reached out to the TABC on 03/03/2016, claiming that the bar sold alcohol to an intoxicated person.
Upon investigation, authorities found evidence to support the claim (which they classified as both a criminal and administrative violation), along with one count of public intoxication. After issuing a warning citation, authorities opted to end their work on the case on 03/29/2016.
A citizen complaint, filed on 01/30/2018, alleged that the bar sold alcohol to a customer who was already drunk.
The ensuing investigation failed to turn up any hard evidence of a violation. Unable to take any action, authorities decided to close the case on 02/17/2018.
On 04/19/2018, a citizen complaint accused the bar of permitting a minor to possess or consume alcohol, allowing prostitution and the possession of drugs on the premises, and selling alcohol to an intoxicated person.
Due to a lack of video evidence, authorities could not determine the veracity of the claims and, as a result, they could not take any action. On 08/31/2018, they concluded their work on the case.
Law enforcement contacted the TABC on 05/08/2019, claiming that a breach of the peace took place.
Even when a police officer is the source of a complaint, the TABC still requires strong corroborating evidence before taking action. Since investigators did not have any video footage of the incident, they could not determine the veracity of the claim. Consequently, they closed the case on 08/17/2019.
Another law enforcement complaint came on 05/09/2019, alleging the bar sold alcohol to a drunk customer.
The TABC looked into the matter, but failed to find any evidence of a criminal or administrative violation. With no other course of action available, investigators shut the case on 07/30/2019.
An anonymous complaint on 05/29/2019 brought the TABC back to investigate once again. This time, there were seven alleged violations: permitting a minor to possess or consume alcohol, serving alcohol to a minor, an unreported breach of the peace, permitting the possession of drugs on the premises, prostitution, and staff drinking on the job.
As is often the case, authorities did not find any proof of wrongdoing and could not take any further action. On 07/30/2019, the case came to a close.
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.