Lawsuit in Houston Alleges Strip Club Violated Dram Shop Law and Caused Auto Accident
Houston residents know that DWI car accident related lawsuits are usually filed against the driver of the vehicle. However, in a recent case a suit was filed against a strip club who served a man too much alcohol.
On the night in question, the man left the club with a blood alcohol level of 0.295, after having around 15 drinks. This is three times the legal limit in Texas. The club made no attempt to ensure he had a safe ride home and of course he was DUI (Driving under the influence).
It is estimated he was driving around 130 miles per hour with his headlights off when he struck a vehicle from behind. The other vehicle involved in the DWI accident was being driven by a high school student, who unfortunately, was killed. The man is currently serving a 15 year sentence for intoxication manslaughter.
Club Policy at Issue
A policy of the club is thought to play a role in why the man was overly served. The club charges its entertainers a “house charge” to work there. Entertainers must sell drinks to earn credit toward this charge. This results in overly aggressive alcohol selling, which causes customers to become extremely intoxicated. It happens every night in Houston.
There is potential for a policy like this to violate Texas’s Dram Shop law. A dram shop is any drinking establishment that serves alcoholic beverages.
What are Dram Shop Laws?
Dram shop laws prevent alcohol sellers from serving customers who are clearly intoxicated. If a customer who is visibly intoxicated is served and later injures someone due to this intoxication, the seller of the alcohol can be held liable.
Dram shop laws in Texas underwent changes in 1987. The Dram Shop Act went into effect, making providers of alcohol responsible for all resulting damages for violations of dram shop laws.
In 2004, the Texas Supreme Court found that imposing all liability on sellers of alcohol conflicted with the state’s Proportional Responsibility Statute. Under this statute, a jury assigns proportional shares of responsibility to both the drunk driver and seller of alcohol. A seller of alcohol is now jointly liable only if it is more than 50 percent responsible.
Violations of dram shop laws are normally difficult to prove. The victim who suffers personal injuries has the burden of showing that the seller of alcohol actually served the person while they were visibly intoxicated.
This problem is the victim is usually not present when the alcohol is being served. There are also few witnesses of the incidents. In the strip club’s case, however, the policy of selling as many drinks as possible can provide valuable evidence in proving a patron was served too much.
An individual who suffers an injury by a drunk driver can face devastating long term consequences. An experienced car accident lawyer can help determine the appropriate remedies and assist with obtaining any available compensation.
If you believe that you have a case, contact Michael P. Fleming & Associates today for a free consultation.