Considering A Dram Shop Case Against The Dogwood? Here's What You Need To Know
When it comes to holding bars accountable for liquor law violations, nobody in Texas has more experience than I do. In my 30 years of practice, I've handled hundreds of cases, and I've seen just how common it is for bars to put profits over their responsibility to serve alcohol responsibly. The tragic accidents that often result from this practice are common knowledge, but few people are aware just how long the bars involved have been over-serving alcohol before those accidents occur. In order to call more attention to this problem, I dedicate a portion of my time to investigating the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission's complaint records and posting my findings here on my website. If you think you might have a dram shop (liquor liability) claim and are interested in learning about how to proceed, please call me at (855) 326-0000.
The Dogwood is a chain of three family-owned bars. It consists of two locations in Austin and one in Houston. The concept combines patio areas, rooftop bars, private event rooms, and plenty of TV screens to provide patrons with a spacious environment where they can get together with friends and family like they would in their own homes. In addition to the attention it has received for its homey atmosphere, though, The Dogwood has also found itself attracting the interest of the TABC for charges of liquor law violations. Two of the three locations have been under investigation a combined total of five times in the last four years.
In my experience, it's uncommon for bars that don't have a history of TABC investigations to end up facing a dram shop case. Almost every bar I've ever sued was already on the authorities' radar. The more attention the authorities are paying to a particular bar, the more concerned I become that it could one day play a part in an accident.
I want to emphasize that an investigation does not mean that a bar did anything illegal. Conversely, if authorities investigate and determine that the establishment is not in violation of TABC code, that does not mean that the alleged violation did not take place. Given the nature of liquor law violations, it can often be exceedingly difficult to obtain the evidence necessary for a conviction. We are simply reporting the Dogwood locations that ended up on the TABC's radar for one reason or another in recent past.
TABC Investigations of The Dogwood Locations
Houston - 2403 Bagby Street
On 04/19/2016, law enforcement filed a complaint with TABC, alleging that this location sold alcohol to a drunk customer.
Even though the source of the complaint was a police officer, authorities did not uncover sufficient evidence to issue a citation for a criminal or administrative violation. Thus, on 05/31/2016, they closed this case without further action.
Staff at this location lodged the next complaint with TABC on 09/14/2016, charging the bar with selling alcohol to an intoxicated patron.
Authorities investigated but could not produce any hard proof of wrongdoing. As a result, the investigation concluded on 12/14/2016.
The third claim that this bar sold alcohol to an inebriated customer came on 07/25/2017. Once again, staff at this location filed the complaint.
Short of having video evidence, it is virtually impossible for authorities to prove this kind of allegation. In this case, it appears that there was none, so TABC closed its investigation without taking any action on 08/17/2017.
A concerned citizen filed a complaint on 12/18/2018, alleging that a staff member at this location was intoxicated. This allegation is more serious than it might sound; if staff are drinking on the job, it's likely that their ability to perceive when a patron has had too much to drink will be compromised.
Authorities investigated, but due to the nature of this kind of allegation, it's not surprising that authorities could not corroborate it. On 03/12/2019, TABC called off the inquiry.
Austin - 11420 Rock Rose Suite 700
On 09/15/2017, a concerned citizen filed a complaint alleging that this location sold alcohol to a drunk patron. TABC followed up soon thereafter with an investigation.
Though authorities spent over a month working on this case, they could not find any proof to sustain the claim. Thus, on 10/20/2017, they concluded their efforts without taking further action.
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.