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Considering A Dram Shop Case Against The Deadhorse? 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.

The Deadhorse is a music venue and lounge located in San Angelo, Texas. Catering to fans of rock and roll music, the bar has gained a strong following for offering a steady line-up of touring bands. To the TABC, however, the The Deadhorse is better known for the lengthy list of complaints against it alleging it violated state liquor laws. Over just five years, authorities conducted no fewer than eight investigations into the bar'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 The Deadhorse for possible criminal or administrative violations.

TABC Investigations of The Deadhorse Between 2015 and 2020


San Angelo - 210 S Chadbourne

Allegations:

On 07/16/2015, a staff member reached out to the TABC, alleging that the bar sold alcohol to a patron who was already drunk. While it might seem strange for an employee to file a TABC complaint, they are in fact legally obligated to report any violations they see at work.

TABC agents looked into the matter, but failed to turn up any evidence to corroborate the claim. 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 issue a citation. Unable to take any action, authorities closed this case on 08/23/2015.

The next complaint came on 11/19/2016, with a concerned citizen alleging that the bar sold alcohol to a minor.

The ensuing investigation was not successful at determining the veracity of the allegation. As a result, authorities could take no action and chose to close the case on 12/26/2016.

A member of the San Angelo community contacted the TABC on 12/28/2016 and charged that the bar sold alcohol to a drunk customer.

After a nearly two-month long inquiry into the matter, TABC agents were unable to find any hard evidence of a violation. As a result, on 02/25/2017, the case came to an end.

A law enforcement complaint, filed on 12/28/2016, claimed that the bar sold alcohol to an obviously intoxicated person. As this complaint was filed on the same day as the previous one and alleges the same violation, it is possible that it is regarding the same incident.

As in the previous complaint, the TABC was not able to locate any hard proof of an administrative or criminal violation due to a lack of video evidence. On 09/30/2017, authorities closed this case without further action.

On 08/15/2017, a concerned citizen lodged a complaint alleging that the bar sold alcohol to an intoxicated person and that an employee was drinking on the job. This second allegation is more serious than it might appear at first glance. Staff has a legal obligation to stop serving alcohol to customers who exhibit signs of being dangerously intoxicated. If the staff itself is drunk, its ability to perform this essential function is compromised.

The subsequent investigation lasted less than two weeks, which is far shorter than the average of a month or two. Authorities failed to uncover any definitive proof of wrongdoing and decided to end their work on this case on 08/26/2017.

The next citizen complaint, placed on 07/24/2019, claimed that a member of staff was drinking on the job.

As mentioned earlier, the TABC relies heavily on video evidence to establish the validity of allegations. Once again, it had none and thus could not prove any wrongdoing had occurred. Consequently, TABC agents shut this case on 08/17/2019.

A law enforcement officer got in touch with the TABC on 08/09/2019, charging the bar with selling alcohol to a drunk customer.

Even though the source of the complaint was a cop, the TABC still needs video evidence or eyewitness testimony from one of its own agents to confirm that a violation took place. Since it again had neither of those, it could take no action. Thus, the case came to a close on 10/08/2019.

A subsequent law enforcement complaint, dated 01/17/2020, alleged that the bar sold alcohol to an inebriated person.

The investigation that followed was no more successful at proving any wrongdoing than the previous ones were. Having no other course of action available, authorities closed the case on 02/10/2020.

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.