The mother of a Dallas Cowboys player who was killed when his teammate decided to get drunk and crash his Mercedes filed a suit against the Dallas night club that overserved the men — and most of the team — back on December 8th. The father of the deceased Cowboy is filing a similar suit today. The full text of the lawsuit is available here.
I have to represent a lot of people who are harmed by intoxicated drivers and I follow stories like these with great interest.
Stacy Jackson, the mother of Jerry Brown Jr., alleges that the employees at Beamers Night Club continued to serve liquor to Josh Brent even after he “exhibited signs of obvious intoxication” and that he was allowed to leave the bar “heavily intoxicated.”
You will remember that Brent, 25, is accused of driving while intoxicated and crashing his car in a one vehicle collision in Irving, resulting in the death of Brown, his best friend. Brent had a reported blood alcohol content of 0.18, more than twice the legal driving limit. I blogged about it here.
Readers of this blog (and clients) know that I hate DWI drivers and the bodily injuries, lost wages and other damage that they cause and go after them in court with a vengeance.
Brent’s blood alcohol content was .18% — more than two times the legal limit of .08%.
Brent is also facing trial in January on criminal intoxication manslaughter and manslaughter charges.
The lawsuits have merit. In August the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission concluded that there was “sufficient evidence” that the the club violated the Texas Alcohol Beverage Code by serving liquor to Brent, whom it deemed an “intoxicated person.”
Legal actions like these are based on the Dram Shop Act, codified in Section 2.02 of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code, and prohibits the sale of alcohol to an already intoxicated customer.
A landmark case in 1987 dramatically increased the liability of alcohol providers like night clubs, restaurants, and liquor stores. The Texas Supreme Court held In El Chico v. Poolethat there was a legal duty on providers of alcohol not to serve those persons that “it knows or should know are intoxicated.”
The Legislature quickly made it harder for plaintiffs to win the cases by increasing their burden of proof by requiring evidence of “obvious intoxication” and the drunk driver being a “clear danger” to him.
Several years later the law changed again. The Duenez family had filed a negligence case the store owner after one of its clerks sold a large quanity of beer to a man named Ruiz, who was already drunk. He proceeded to crash into this family and seriously injured five people. A jury in South Texas awarded the family $35 million and held the store owner was 100% responsible for the damages.
In 2004, the Supreme Court held in a 5-4 decision that under Chapter 33 of the Texas Civil Practices and Remedies Code, a licensed alcohol seller must be found liable for the percentage of liability a jury assigns as for the percentage of responsibility that the jury assigns to the drunk driver.
However, after the store owner had filed its motion for rehearing, three justices who had sided with the plaintiffs left the court, a fortuitous turn of events for the store owners. In 2006 the new panel issued a 7-2 decision that held that the dram shop should only have been jointly and severally responsible if it was more than 50 percent liable, a victory for bar owners across Texas.
At the Law Offices of William K. Berenson, we know personal injury law, including the Texas Dram Shop law, and we are here to help you. If you have been injured by a drunk driver in an automobile or truck collision here in the Dallas Fort Worth area, please call us. We’ll fight to get you the money you deserve.