Skip to comments.Legal loophole protects bars in death cases
Posted on 11/25/2010 2:57:45 PM PST by Bad~Rodeo
HOUSTON As in most states, a bar owner can be held liable if a drunken patron injures someone else. But the I-Team discovered how the big liquor lobby pushed through a legal loophole that gets bars around the law, and leaves some Texas families in anguish.
Matthew Garcia was bright and talented, and at 21, too young to die, his family said.
"He would sit at the piano for hours and play," recalled Laurri Garcia of her sons affection for music. Life is horrible without Matthew, I miss him incredibly."
But amid his parents' pain, theres something else.
Rage, said his father Kent Garcia.
The rage is directed at David Coleman Wilson, the drunk driver who hit and killed their son in August 2008. But also at the bar which over served him, even though he was already drunk. Its called Janies Bar, and is located in the 19600 block of Kuykendahl in northwest Harris County.
"They didn't stop him, had he had a gun in his hand they would have called the police, but he didn't, he used a car," Laurri Garcia said.
So what did the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission do to Janies Bar? Virtually nothing. In fact, the 11 News I-Team has discovered that in Harris County, bars hardly ever get in trouble for serving drunks. After reviewing thousands of TABC administrative actions, we found the TABC cited bars only 22 times for serving drunks, and thats over five years. But during the same time, the agency wrote up 4,982 other violations against bars, mostly for tax and regulatory issues.
But in the Garcia case, "we thought this was a slam dunk," according to Kent Garcia.
So did the lead TABC agent investigating it.
"They knew he was intoxicated, they continued to serve after becoming intoxicated, and they didn't take any steps after they realized he was intoxicated," said Agent Chuck Cornelius.
By all accounts, it was a solid case, but the result wasnt.
"Nothing happened to them, they didn't get suspended," said TABC Lt. Harry Schreffler, adding that Janies didnt get fined either.
Why not? Something in Texas law known as Safe Harbor, which is the only law of its kind in the nation. It says if liquor license own
And the drunk continued to drink. Its his fault.
If you can’t get intoxicated in a bar...
Safe Harbor law = pony up some $ to the TABC and they had you a get out of jail free card.
No one is saying you can’t get drunk in a bar, just don’t drive while drunk. The bar should have called him a cab like many other bars
From the article:
Why not? Something in Texas law known as Safe Harbor, which is the only law of its kind in the nation. It says if liquor license owners take a few simple steps, they’re immune from liability for serving drunks or serving minors. What are those steps? Make sure bartenders and waitresses go through state-approved training; make sure liquor serving laws are posted at the bar, and make sure nobody encourages violation of the law.
Follow those rules, and you’re protected against lawsuits and action by the TABC.
Sounds reasonable to me. Safe harbors for bar owners make sense. Go after the driver.
A good law. The nation is too “deep pockets lawsuit” happy.
Article ALSO stated that the bar in question CONTINUED to serve this guy knowing he was drunk. Texas also has the Dram law. You find no culpability with the bar at all in this story?
No HE should have called himself a cab. A bar’s job is to sell stuff to customers, it’s the CUSTOMER’S responsibility to use that stuff safely. Server liability laws have always been silly, demanding bars know way more about their customers than is reasonable. You don’t know how drunk a guy is if he’s not being odd, heck you don’t even know if the guy is driving or not. They’re bartenders, not mind readers or doctors.
Agreed. And the article never talks about what happened to the driver. But apparently the family did get money, er, um, I mean, “justice.”
The Garcia family did file a lawsuit against Janies Bar. While the Safe Harbor law does protect a bar in a civil court, it does not prohibit anyone from actually filing suit against such a business for over serving. However, owner Janie Parker said the case was settled for an undisclosed amount by her insurance company because it was cheaper than going to court
I read it, but the article saying it doesn’t make it so.
Unbelievable, then using your logic, I guess the majority of the bars here are wasting their money in sponsoring Sober/Safe Ride Home programs
Poor use of slippery slope. If a bar FREELY CHOOSES to assist their customers in safely consuming booze that’s their choice and nobody would or should have a problem with that. What I said is that the laws that FORCE bars to be liable for the voluntary actions of OTHERS are silly. They’re as silly as those lawsuits against gun makers some cities were throwing around a while ago, as silly as the lawsuits against cigarette companies. Bars sell a legal product, some people misuse that legal product, but that’s not the bars’ fault, that’s the drinker’s fault.
Then your beef is with MADD, good luck.
Every single person that thinks server liability laws are good is wrong. Which includes you along with MADD, which has turned into a psychotic neo-prohibitionist group and is thankfully losing lots of support because of it.
Read post 5 Einstein before you start making blanket statements. I could care less if YOUR customers get stupid drunk, JUST DON’T DRIVE
I read post 5, I replied to post 5, and you ARE supporting server liability laws, and those ARE bad laws that hold bars responsible for the act of others. And your need to use insults shows you DO know logic is not on your side.
The only one to blame for this accident is the drunk driver who continued to drink. To hold the bar responsible is just BS and another way to rip money from someone. Would their son be any less dead if they could sue the bar? Nope, he wouldn’t, no amount of money will bring him back.
That’s your opinion and you’re entitled to it.
Actually everything in that post was FACTS. Opinion is what you spouted in 5 when you said the bar should have called a cab. The FACTS are that the drinker is responsible for his own actions EXCLUSIVELY.
Unfortunately, we live in a litigious society
I accepted your opinion, now, IMHO the bar should shown a little more responsibility in cutting this guy off and calling him a cab. What’s wrong with that?
The problem is that opinion is based 100% on 3rd hand accounts and assumptions. We don’t know how much the guy drank, we don’t know if he displayed any visible signs of being drunk, we don’t know if he told the bar he was using some method of transportation other than driving himself, we don’t know how big the bar is and how many customers were there and how many employees he interacted with. We have ZERO pertinent information that would indicate the bar had any information to operate on.
But we do know as absolute fact one very important thing: people are responsible for their own action. He’s the one who drank and drove, he’s the one who’s responsible. EXCLUSIVELY. And laws that try to make it otherwise are silly. And people that support those laws are supporting the destruction of freedom and personal responsibility in this country.
Except that this family lost a son
Which is sad but also besides the point and a blatant appeal to emotion fallacy on your part. The logic holds. You and everybody else that supports server liability laws is wrong. The drunk driver is the SOLE responsible party. Unless you can address the LOGIC without resorting to more fallacies I suggest you ask yourself why your position can’t support itself.
You’re right, Happy Thanksgiving, LOL~
This sounds like an even whinier than usual sob sister editorial.
“But *don’t* you *understand*? Unless there is gun control, people will gun down kittens and puppies in the streets and *get* *away* *with* *it*! Can’t you just hear the pitiful cries of the wounded and bleeding puppies as the gun users snatch them from the arms of *innocent* little children, and then when they can’t *stomp* on them with their steel toed boots, they pull out their *cheap*, *disposable* killing gun and savagely shoot puppy after puppy, kitty after kitty, while laughing maniacally! The horror! The outrage! Guns must be outlawed!”
Looking at the drunk driving story objectively, what happened?
Some guy got drunk in a bar and while driving DUI killed someone. It happens all over the US, every single day. And NOWHERE in the US are bars found liable for the drunken driving offenses of their patrons.
So what about Texas. Oh, yeah. They have laws on the books to try and reduce the number of DUI cases. In this case, those extra laws didn’t help.
And the family of the innocent dead person wants to sue somebody. They obviously can’t get any money out of the DUI guy, or the car dealer who sold him the car, or the car maker who made the car that was sold to the dealer and then to the DUI. Nor can they sue the liquor manufacturer.
But gosh darn it, they want MONEY. So they are suing the bar. And that’s not working, either.
Yeah, that about sums it up.
Okay, the BAR is safe; what about the actual server(s) who continued serving him?
Oh; pockets are too shallow.
The perp could have purchased a bottle in a liquor store to achieve the same results.
A regrettable situation, but an impossible responsibility to pass off on the server.
>> the bar should shown a little more responsibility in cutting this guy off and calling him a cab. Whats wrong with that?
The bar only controls the service of alcohol and not the taxi service which the perp could have refused. The bar could, however, call the cops on the intoxicated patron it just served.
Even if the bar cut the guy off, the guy could still be a road liability. Also, someone does not need to be visibly intoxicated to be a risk on the road.
What?!!!! Hold the perpetrator responsible for their own actions? Where's the money in that for the lawyers? personal responsibility ...... isn't that some how connected to the ideals liberty and freedom? Why that's some crazy idea, that. /s
These laws like “suing the bar because they served a drunk driver” are only around for lawyers to get more money from someone or something. Individuals should be held responsible for their actions
If I go to my favorite All You Can Eat Buffett...stuff myself....and cause an accident because I belched or flatulated....should that restaurant be held liable? If I go to a video game place...and my eyes are all bugged out, causing a wreck...should the video game place be sued?