At Guerra & Farah, PLLC, we are well-versed in Texas State laws as they pertain to all types of civil lawsuits and personal injury claims, and we use our vast knowledge of the laws to our clients' greatest advantage at all times. To illustrate, we just settled a case against a local bar for over serving alcohol to one of its patrons under the Texas Dram Shop Act which took effect on June 11, 1987.
A dram shop is defined as any type of drinking establishment where liquor is sold for consumption on the premises; this would include a bar or a saloon, a nightclub, or in some cases a restaurant. Under dram shop acts, the seller of the liquor can be sued by a third party who was injured by the intoxicated person. Dram shop acts were designed to not only protect the injured third party who was harmed by a drunk driver or an assault by an intoxicated person, but they also compensate for the loss of family support owing to such injuries.
Section 2.02 of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code, otherwise known as the Dram Shop Act states that providing, selling, or serving an alcoholic beverage may be a statutory cause of action if at the time the provision occurred, it was apparent to the provider of the alcoholic beverage that the patron was obviously intoxicated to the extent that he or she presented a clear and present danger to himself and others, and if the intoxication of the recipient of the alcoholic beverage was the proximate cause of the damage suffered. The total amount of the settlement was in the six figures. We signed a confidentiality clause not to disclose the name of the defendant or the amount of the settlement.
Our 14-year-old client lost his mother in a single vehicle crash in which she was a passenger. Our client's stepfather was the one driving the vehicle after the couple left the bar. We also have another pending case against Hush Nightclub where a 19-year-old girl killed herself while she was driving home from the club.
Under the Texas Dram Shop Act, an adult age 21 or older can also be held liable for damage proximately caused to a minor under the age of 18 if the adult knowingly provided any of the alcoholic beverages that contributed to the minor's intoxication, or allowed the minor to be served any alcoholic beverages that contributed to the minor's intoxication. Serving alcohol to minors is illegal in all 50 states and many states impose liability on bars for serving minors who subsequently injure themselves or others; therefore, the laws are set forth to deter bars from serving alcohol to minors. In states such as Texas and New Jersey, minors can actually sue drinking establishments for their own injuries sustained while under the influence of alcohol. In other states, dram shop liability only extends to serving individuals who are "habitually intoxicated."