In October of 2013, a Corpus Christi jury awarded $18 million to the family of a man who was killed in a drunk driving accident. In this example of a dram shop case, the jury found the establishment that had over-served the drunk driver was negligent. This case focused attention on the responsibility of bars, restaurants and other alcohol-serving establishments to closely monitor patrons and not allow them to get behind the wheel of their vehicle when intoxicated.
A Tragic Result
Jonathan Palacios, according to court documents, had been served at least 17 drinks on a June night in 2011. Employees of the establishment kicked out Palacios, who then got in his vehicle and started driving the wrong way on Texas State Highway 358. Approximately seven minutes after he was removed from the bar, Palacios was involved in a head-on collision with a vehicle driven by Bryant Hernandez, 18. Both drivers were killed instantly in the drunk driving accident. At the time of his death, Palacios’ blood alcohol level was .24 – which is three times more than the legal limit in the state of Texas.
A Swift Verdict
The jury deliberated for a mere five hours before finding the defendant – a local cabaret – liable for continuing to serve Palacios even though it was obvious he was intoxicated. According to dram shop law in Texas, a bar, restaurant or other alcohol-serving establishment can be held liable for over-serving customers and allowing them to operate a vehicle when obviously intoxicated.
At The Durham Law Firm, we hope this case serves as a warning to establishments all across the state that they need to do more to keep their patrons from being involved in a drunk driving accident. If you or a loved one has been harmed due to the actions of someone who was over-served in a bar or restaurant, call us at (214) 222-4000 or contact us online. We’ll listen to the details of your case and let you know whether or not you have a dram shop cause of action.