Considering A Dram Shop Case Against Sunset Lounge? Here's What You Need To Know
My firm has handled more liquor liability (dram shop) cases than anyone else in Texas. With over 30 years of practice behind me, I can attest to just how many bars regularly fail to adhere to alcohol service laws, particularly when it comes to their obligation to refuse service to patrons who are already drunk. While the public might see or hear about a drunk driving accident from time to time, it is much less common for it to hear about the role that irresponsible bars play in those accidents. In order to increase people's awareness of this problem, I dedicate a portion of my time to researching the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission's complaint database 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.
Sunset Lounge is a night club located in Paris, 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 five investigations into the club'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 Sunset Lounge for possible criminal or administrative violations.
TABC Investigations of Sunset Lounge Between 2015 and 2019
Paris - 1734 N Main
On 06/24/2015, a staff member filed a complaint with the TABC, alleging that another staff member was drinking on the job. While it might seem strange for a staff member to be the source of a TABC complaint, employees have a legal obligation to report any violations they see in the workplace.
Authorities looked into the matter 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. Having neither in this investigation, authorities decided to close the case on 08/04/2015.
Law enforcement contacted the TABC on 12/21/2015, alleging that a breach of the peace (typically a fight) took place and that the club failed to report it.
An investigation ensued, with authorities finding sufficient evidence to confirm the allegations. After issuing the bar a written warning, the TABC closed the case on 01/23/2016.
A member of the Paris community reached out to the TABC on 05/04/2016, claiming that the bar failed to report a breach of the peace, permitted the possession of drugs on the premises, sold alcohol to an intoxicated person, and that staff was drinking on the job.
As mentioned in the first 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 06/17/2016.
On 08/31/2016, a citizen complaint brought the TABC back to investigate an allegation that an unreported breach of the peace took place. Additionally, the complaint alleged that the bar permitted the possession of drugs, allowed staff to sell drugs, and sold alcohol to a drunk customer.
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 11/04/2016.
A further citizen complaint reached the TABC on 02/08/2019, claiming that a breach of the peace took place and that staff was drinking on the job.
The subsequent investigation was unable to uncover sufficient evidence for authorities to take any action. Left with no other alternative, the TABC decided to conclude its work on the case on 04/01/2019.
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.