Gentleman wins $5.5 million lawsuit against bar for allowing him to get drunk and fight another customer

I know that in Oregon driver’s licenses for people under 21 years old are laid out in Portrait orientation to make them visually distinct from the conventional landscape layout for full adults.

I quick search through the Texas government/dmv websites didn’t turn up anything obvious that they might be doing to mark licenses held by minors or persons under 21 years old.


A No Rye list?


It’s illegal to serve an obviously intoxicated person in most states and liability insurance usually requires staff to undergo alcohol safety training. Which is mostly about how to tell if someone is intoxicated, at what point to refuse service, how to safely refuse service etc. Along with checking IDs and other basic shit. Almost entirely from a frame work of limiting the chance you or your employer will be sued or charged. Some states actually require it for all service staff.

Where I’m at you can actually be arrested and heavily fined for serving some one who ends up driving drunk, or if you end up serving someone underaged. Even if you checked the id and thought it was kosher. The person indicated they weren’t driving, and wasn’t a shit show when they left, had one drink or whatever.

So we been there for a while.

Which is useless if you’ve never encountered that person before. Which is going to be true of 90% of your customers.

These sorts of problem drinkers tend to bounce between spots, seeking out places that will not recognize them or be aware that they’re a problem. Slowly getting banned from every place in an area.

You’d basically have yo put a “do not serve” flag on a person’s ID, then universally check IDs. Which I’ve long thought would be a good idea.


Or a database of irresponsible drinkers that every potential patron needs to have their ID checked against prior to being served. That would impose a huge burden on the drinking establishment though. (not sure how much such a thing would cost). I’ve been to a handful of places that had readers to scan IDs, presumably to check the validity of the ID.

EDIT: of course, in the particular case of this “patron” who won the lawsuit, I rather suspect he would have had the same sort of altercation even if he was at an establishment which did not serve any alcohol.


Andrews is a town of 11,000 people in far west Texas. I’d guess most, if not all, the bars in the area know this guy.


Next up: Maskless anti-vaxxer gets Covid then sues state for not being convincing or forceful enough in getting her to wear mask and get vaccinated.


Yes. Absolutely. Every time. This is coming from someone who has bartended, managed bars and been in alcohol production for over 20 years. The staff of any establishment not only can cut someone off or refuse to serve them, they absolutely should. It is their responsibility to everyone else, including their employer, to ensure that nobody is over-served.

I don’t think that…

would be necessary or even legal, but there’s really no reason for it. Every damn time I’ve had a problem with a customer it was 100% predictable. Every single person I’ve physically removed from a bar was so far over any reasonable line already that it wasn’t even a question and most of them were basically wearing red flags the moment they walked in.

People aren’t compelled by alcohol to act like monsters, they use it to unlock the darkness in themselves.


Alcohol seems to have been the exception for many years. People who host parties in their homes have faced legal consequences, too.


Texas, you crazy!

I just finished bingeing on both “Dr Death” (the dramatization) and “Dr Death: The Undoctored Story” (the documentary). The whole reason the malpracticing Texas doctor gets away with as much as he does is because Texas, since 2003, is a “tort reform” state: no medical malpractice suit can be for over $250,000. Christopher Duntsch maimed/killed 33 people before they stopped him, and then only because of the unstinting efforts of several hero-doctors working outside the system.

So, in Texas, get in a barfight and get awarded $5.5 million. Get butchered/murdered by an incompetent doctor: you lose good day, sir.


There’s already simple systems in place for scanning ID’s to check that they’re valid. Many or most restaurants and bars have them. As does any place with a lotto station. And there are cell phone apps that do it with a cheap add on or even the phone’s camera.

IDs in the US and most other countries have a barcode in the back.

For the most part though that barcode just encodes what’s printed in the ID, and scanning just confirms it has a valid code, or provides a check that info on the front matches what’s encoded.

So many fake IDs scan as valid. Cause all that takes is spoofing the barcode system.

If instead that same system pulled a lookup from that data base that already exists you’d cut down on that massively. And a “do not serve” flag could be added to cut off habitual drunk drivers.

Every cop car in the country has the equipment to do just that, and it’s just as fast as the scanners bars are already using.

Ultimately speaking it doesn’t make sense to rely just on bar staff to cut people off based on interaction. A person the bar refuses service to, can just go to a liquor store. We don’t tend to put the same blame and liability on off premise alcohol sales. And there’s far less chance to pickup on some one being shit housed ahead of time.

You’d be surprised. For one there’s heavy turn over in the industry. Both in staff and businesses. There’s pretty perpetually some one new or some place new. Regardless of how small a place.

On top of that these people will travel. In my many years bartending you’d regularly run into these types. Frequently enough they’d travelled over an hour.

The place where I live isn’t much bigger than that, some of the towns I’ve bartended in out here are quite a bit smaller. And you still saw that. It’s also really common for local problems here to never go out (or shop) in their own town or neighborhood. Cause they’ve already been 86ed everywhere. Those people you hear about. Some guy taking a ferry to drink where nobody knows him? Not so much.


The suit also mentions the bar deciding not to call an ambulance, which might be a significant factor in the award amount?


If anyone else finds themselves in that sort of situation, go to court, try to talk to the clark as early as possible and tell them you hired a lawyer, but they can’t represent you (for whatever reason), and you didn’t have time to find another one. As long as you don’t have a history of doing this you will get more time to find another lawyer (if as in this case your lawyer was disbarred, you might ask for recommendations, I have no idea if that works).

It sucks, but showing up to court an extra time is much better then a default judgment (or I should say a very high chance of default judgment, as the other side has to have at least a very flimsy case).


Yeah, this is one of those issues I have to admit I’m probably way out of touch with and don’t grock all the ramifications. I’m not much of a drinker so I don’t spend time at bars.


Dude prolly fell over on the asphalt.

Takeaway; when fighting drunk always do it on the grass.

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It would be a quick and easy check to screen out people with a history.

Can’t buy or consume alcohol is already a very common probation term for habitual drunk drivers and the violently drunk. A lot of the worst end of the problem is repeat offenders and serious alcoholics.

So a tweaked scanner that actually does something makes that one (significant) problem easier to avoid.

I’m also gonna push back on it always being obvious. I’ve got more “one beer” stories than I can count, and strict as I’ve always been I’ve pretty narrowly skated on getting sued or fined (or arrested) more than once.

Restaurant staff don’t always have direct contact with the people they’re serving, it can be difficult to judge other people’s state based purely on interactions. And staff don’t always have the ability to make the right call. I’ve worked a place where cutting some one off meant my job, and I really couldn’t afford to lose that job.

It’s just not practical to expect restaurant staff to solve the problems that can result from this. Which is why best practices tend to focus in limiting liability (for the business), not preventing drunk driving or what have.

It makes sense to hold places that violate the law and basic safety deliberately and habitually accountable. But expecting service workers to enforce the law under threat of charges or lawsuits, isn’t really sensible absent any sort of system beyond their best judgement. Like say a legitimate way to scan IDs. Or public transport. Or actual enforcement of drunk driving laws. Or liberal access to substance abuse treatment.

Plus there’s other problems that come out of it. Like an awful lot of people are convinced the people who are obviously going to be a problem are just all minorities.


It’s the same in CA. When I got my first job as a bartender in 1986, I had to sign something acknowledging that I will be fired if I got caught serving an underage or inebriated customer, and subject to any fines and arrest.

eta: inebriated

Let me also add that they made it very clear that we could also be party to a lawsuit if we served someone who was later involved in a driving accident. (They pretty much scared the crap out of me.)


Bartenders should carry Breath-a-lyzers.

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What a defense-it’s not my fault I was so drunk! That guy just kept forcing me to pay him to give me alcohol!

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The legal regime that this drunken shitbag is benefiting from (at the moment) is a good one. Let’s change the headline a bit:

Bystander wins $5.5 million lawsuit against bar for injuries after drunken customers fought

Or how about this one?

11-year-old wins $5.5 million lawsuit against bar for allowing him to get drunk and fight another customer

Or we could do

Waitress wins $5.5 million lawsuit for injuries after bar did nothing to stop customers from getting drunk, fighting

Bars aren’t allowed to fuck around with this stuff. It says so in big flashing letters on the liquor license. If they’d actually responded, they could have established contributory negligence on the part of the drunken shitbag and gotten it reduced a ton, if not all the way to zero. But they did indeed fuck up in ways that made them liable.


Lots of cities have BOLO (Be On Look Out) lists circulated among the bars and nightclubs to keep known troublemakers out.