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Considering A Dram Shop Case Against The Warehouse Billiard Bar? Here's What You Need To Know

I've held more bars accountable for irresponsible alcohol service practices than any other lawyer in Texas. The hundreds of cases I've handled over the last 30 years have shown me just how many bars regularly over-serve their patrons, not to mention the tragic consequences that often result. While the public might see or hear about a drunk driving accident from time to time, it is less common to hear about the role that reckless bars play in those accidents. In order to call more attention to this issue, I dedicate part 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 might have a dram shop (liquor liability) case, don't hesitate to call me at (855) 326-0000.

The Warehouse Billiard Bar is a pool hall located in Austin, Texas. Originally founded in 1984 as The Warehouse Saloon & Billiards, it was rebranded after moving to its current location in 2016. With 11,000 square feet of space, a full bar, karaoke, 3D golf, and of course, plenty of pool tables, it has built a strong local following. However, in addition to the attention it has attracted for its amenities, The Warehouse Billiard Bar has also managed to call the attention of the TABC on numerous occasions due to complaints that alleged it violated state liquor laws. Between 2016 and 2019, authorities conducted no fewer than five 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 contribute to an accident.

Note: Investigations are not evidence that a bar has broken the law. Investigators must have sufficient proof that there was a violation of TABC regulations in order to take legal action. Owing to the nature of liquor law violations, that proof can often be difficult for authorities to obtain. The purpose of this article is simply to relay publicly-available information about incidents where the TABC has investigated The Warehouse Billiard Bar for possible criminal or administrative violations.

TABC Investigations of The Warehouse Billiard Bar Between 2016 and 2019


Austin - 509 E Ben White Boulevard

Allegations:

A law enforcement complaint, filed on 03/22/2016, alleged that a breach of the peace (typically a fight) occurred, and that the bar failed to report it.

Authorities looked into the matter and found sufficient evidence to issue a citation for an administrative violation. After handing down an unspecified penalty, TABC agents ended their work on the case on 04/25/2016.

A second law enforcement complaint, on 03/02/2017, claimed that the bar sold alcohol to an intoxicated person.

After well over a month of investigation, authorities were unable to find any evidence of wrongdoing. 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 particular instance, agents decided to close the case on 04/22/2017.

On 02/23/2018, a member of staff lodged a complaint with the TABC, alleging that an employee was drinking on the job and 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, they are in fact legally obligated to report any violations they see.

TABC agents looked into the allegations and were able to prove their validity, but the bar received no punishment for the violations. On 03/29/2018, the case concluded.

A member of the Austin community filed a complaint with the TABC on 03/22/2019, alleging that the bar permitted the possession of drugs on the premises, allowed a member of staff to sell or possess drugs, and that a staff member was drinking on the job.

The ensuing investigation was not able to turn up sufficient evidence of a criminal or administrative violation for authorities to issue a citation. As a result, the TABC closed this case on 05/08/2019, without taking further action.

On 06/24/2019, a concerned citizen reached out to the TABC and alleged that a staff member was drinking on the job. This 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 itself is intoxicated, its ability to perform this essential function is compromised.

As mentioned earlier, the TABC relies heavily on video evidence to corroborate allegations of wrongdoing. Due to a lack of such evidence in this case, agents could take no action. Thus, the case came to a close on 07/30/2019.

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.