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.
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