Considering A Dram Shop Case Against The Well? 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 Well is a bar and restaurant located in San Antonio, Texas. In recent years, it has attracted the TABC's attention on numerous occasions due to a number of complaints alleging liquor law violations. Between 2016 and 2019, authorities conducted no fewer than eleven investigations into alcohol service practices at The Well.
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 Well for possible criminal or administrative violations.
TABC Investigations of The Well Between 2016 and 2019
San Antonio - 5539 Utsa Boulevard
Law enforcement filed a complaint with the TABC on 10/21/2016, alleging that the bar sold alcohol to a minor.
Authorities looked into the matter soon 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 particular instance, investigators decided to close the case on 10/25/2016.
A concerned citizen reached out to the TABC on 02/22/2017, claiming that the bar sold alcohol to an intoxicated person.
As mentioned in the previous investigation summary, the TABC relies heavily on video footage to back up most claims of wrongdoing. Since investigators had no such evidence on this occasion, they were unable to determine the veracity of the claim, leading to their decision to close the case on 04/04/2017.
On 05/17/2017, a citizen complaint brought the TABC back to investigate once again. This time, the allegation was that the bar sold alcohol to a drunk customer.
The ensuing investigation failed to find any evidence to support the initial claim, but authorities did manage to find evidence that the bar failed to report a breach of the peace (typically a fight). After issuing a written warning for an administrative violation, the TABC closed the case on 06/05/2017.
The next citizen complaint reached the TABC on 08/29/2017, an alleged that the bar permitted a minor to possess or consume alcohol.
Like in many of the previous investigations, TABC agents had no video evidence to back up the allegation. With no other course of action available, they closed the case on 09/29/2017.
The TABC received a citizen complaint on 02/14/2018, claiming that a breach of the peace took place and that the bar failed to report it (a separate violation in itself).
After over a month of investigation, authorities still hadn't found any evidence to corroborate the claim. Unable to take any further action, investigators wrapped up their work on the case on 03/17/2018.
On 04/19/2018, a citizen complaint alleging that the bar sold alcohol to a patron under the age of 21 triggered another TABC investigation.
Due to a lack of video evidence, investigators were unable to substantiate the allegation. On 06/05/2018, they once again found themselves forced to end their work without further action.
Law enforcement contacted the TABC on 07/10/2018, accusing the bar of selling alcohol to a drunk customer and alleging that the bar failed to report a breach of the peace.
The investigation that followed was only able to corroborate the second accusation, which resulted in an unspecified penalty for the bar. On 08/03/2018, the TABC closed the case without further action.
Staff reached out to the TABC on 02/13/2019, alleging that the bar sold alcohol to an intoxicated patron. While it might seem strange that staff would be the source of a TABC complaint, employees have a legal obligation to report any wrongdoing they see in the workplace.
An investigation followed and succeeded in turning up sufficient evidence to support the claim, which authorities classified as an administrative violation. For some reason, the TABC chose not to hand down any punishment, instead choosing to close the case on 02/20/2019.
On 07/17/2019, the TABC received a citizen complaint, accusing the bar of again selling alcohol to a drunk patron.
TABC agents conducted an over two-month-long inquiry into the matter, but as is often the case, they failed to find any evidence. Out of options, they closed the case on 09/26/2019.
A further law enforcement complaint, placed on 09/10/2019, led to an investigation into claims that the bar sold alcohol to a minor, an intoxicated patron, and that a breach of the peace took place.
While authorities were not able to find evidence to back up the first two claims, they did manage corroborate the last one. Once again, the TABC chose not to hand down any punishment for the violation and ended the case on 11/21/2019.
On 12/27/2019, a law enforcement complaint alleged that a breach of the peace took place, the bar failed to report it, and the bar sold alcohol to an inebriated patron.
With no video evidence to be had, authorities were unable to confirm the validity of the claims. Even when the source of a complaint is a police officer, the TABC requires strong corroborating evidence before it can take action. Having none, investigators closed the case once again on 02/15/2020.
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.