Dallas, Texas; February 1, 2021 — Hartline Barger LLP today announced a victory after attorneys Brian Rawson, Tyler Stuart, and Courtney Kenisky were successful in obtaining a full dismissal for their client in an overservice of alcohol case in Austin, Texas.
This lawsuit arises out of an automobile accident that occurred on June 22, 2018, in Bastrop County, Texas, when a vehicle driven by Brandon Casey Lee Gonzales crossed onto the wrong side of US-290 and struck another vehicle head-on. Plaintiff, age 21, was a passenger in Gonzales’ Ford F-150 at the time of the accident and was trapped in the vehicle when it rolled over and caught fire. Plaintiff sustained third-degree burns on her left arm and left side, a broken foot, and cuts and bruises. Plaintiff received stitches on her chin, thigh, the back of both of her legs, and the bottom of her leg. She had surgery to insert a plate into her left foot. Plaintiff also underwent a skin graft procedure during which half of the skin was taken from her back to cover the areas that were burned on her left side and stomach.
Prior to the subject accident, Gonzales had been a patron at Hartline Barger’s client’s establishment, which was a BYOB club, where he allegedly consumed alcohol that he brought to the club. Plaintiff left the club with Gonzales. The subject accident occurred approximately 25 minutes after Gonzales and Plaintiff left the club together. Blood tests revealed that Gonzales’ blood alcohol content was found to be 0.17 g/dl, a little over two times the legal limit to drive in Texas. Plaintiff, who was represented by plaintiffs’ attorney Thomas J. Henry, sued the club for negligence, negligence per se, and gross negligence. They were seeking over $2 million for her alleged injuries and damages.
Hartline Barger filed a motion for summary judgment arguing that Plaintiff’s negligence claim fails because (i) under Texas law there is no duty to control the conduct of a third party, absent the existence of a special relationship or some other unusual fact pattern, not found here, and (ii) in light of the onerous burden to recover against a commercial alcohol provider for alcohol provision under the Texas Dram Shop Act, over and above that required to prove negligence, it would be improper to allow recovery on the less demanding negligence standard against a commercial BYOB enterprise for simply allowing alcohol consumption on its premises. On October 6, 2020, Judge Dustin Howell of the 419th Judicial District Court in Travis County agreed with Hartline Barger, finding no duty for a BYOB establishment to monitor, regulate, or prevent a patron from overconsuming alcohol on its premises and then driving, and granted full summary judgment, which dismissed Hartline Barger’s client from the case.
CAUSE/CASE NO: D-1-GN-18-003747
Judge: Dustin Howell
Hartline Barger LLP
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