Who is Liable, the seller or the drinker?
Sherlock’s Baker Street Pub is being sued again following the death of Robert Wilhite’s 2011 death. Wilhite’s family is accusing the pub of over-serving alcoholic beverages to him just before he died near the Willowbrook bar’s location. The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) governs seller/server laws in Texas, and specifically states that establishments who sell or serve alcohol and their employees are responsible for making sure patrons are not served to the point of intoxication. Over the past three years there have been several lawsuits involving Sherlock’s Baker Street Pub. Below is a timeline of some of the latest lawsuits. Do you think the bar is liable? Do you think the server is liable? Or, do you think the patron drinking the alcohol is liable? Leave your comments below. This should be a good discussion!
April 2009 Delia Jones sued the pub following a serious car accident that killed her daughter and injured her son-in-law after they left the bar. Her daughter Jessica Ayala was killed in the accident, but her husband Guillermo Ayala survived. Guillermo was driving their vehicle oh Texas Hwy 3 when he lost control and crashed into a tree.
February 2011 Sherlock Pub’s River Oaks location was closed (and still is) after HPD officer Jose Coronado killed Omar Ventura in the bar’s parking lot. Both men had been drinking alcohol inside the pub before the incident. Coronado was reportedly trying to break up a fight in the parking lot, when he found it necessary to fire his weapon at Omar and his brother Rolando Ventura. Omar's brother Rolando survived the incident. Omar Ventura’s family sued Baker Street Pub accusing them of serving alcohol negligently, specifically blaming their happy hour policy as a catalyst in the incident. Coronado was temporarily relieved of duty, as HPD rules state that officers cannot use their enforcement authority when under the influence of alcohol. Coronado was under the legal limit when he attempted to break up the fight.
November 2012 A 24-year-old bartender at Baker Street Pub’s Woodlands location was arrested early on a Sunday morning after allegedly over-serving a patron the night before. The allegedly intoxicated man, who was also arrested, was reportedly shouting racial slurs and stumbling in public. He didn’t need to hire a DWI lawyer because he never even tried to drive a vehicle. The man was charged with Public Intoxication and disturbing the peace. But the bartender went to jail…
June 2012 Another lawsuit was filed against their Clear Lake location in 2012 by the family of Martinique Rubio, who claimed that the pub was responsible for his death in 2011. However, unlike the other cases Rubio was not driving when he left the pub. He rode in the back of a friend’s truck, but fell out and was killed by another car on the road.
January 2013 Robert Wilhite’s family sues Baker Street Pub seeking damages for his death, claiming that the church going father was served past the point of intoxication. The family claims that Baker Street Pub was negligent in serving Wilhite alcohol, and letting him get in a car to drive. This is the third time in as many years that the Baker Street Pub has been sued by a family alleging that they served a patron past the point of intoxication, allegedly causing their motor vehicle deaths.
What do you think?
Unfortunately for the owners of Sherlock’s Baker Street Pub, their bar is the common denominator in all of these unfortunate events. One could blame the popularity of the bar and the media attraction it gets for the countless lawsuits filed against it. Conversely one could point the finger at the bar’s serving policy, or the individuals who served the customers themselves. Is this really a series of unfortunate events or is there a pattern here?