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The standard of review of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission's orders is that provided for in cases of substantial evidence review under the terms of the Administrative Procedure Act. The agency order may not be reversed unless the agency record demonstrates that an appellant's substantial rights have been prejudiced by one of the errors listed in Tex. Gov't Code Ann. § 2001.174(2)(A)-(F), of the APA. Also, Tex. Alco. Bev. Code Ann. § 2.02(b), does not authorize the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission to revoke a permit; rather it provides a rule which if violated may be a ground for revocation under Tex. Alco. Bev. Code Ann. § 6.01.
In June 1995, Jack Jordan went to Chequers, a bar and restaurant owned by appellant Fay-Ray Corporation, and drank alcoholic beverages there. He left the bar alone in his one-ton truck. Proceeding south on FM 2322, he crossed the yellow center line and hit a north-bound car. Jordan and his truck continued south in the north-bound lane and hit another car, rolling up onto the hood and then back off where it finally rested on its side. The first impact severely injured the passenger and killed the driver. When EMS and Department of Public Safety officers arrived at the scene Jordan was belligerent and smelled of alcohol. He was taken to the hospital for minor lacerations. A blood specimen was taken pursuant to orders by the DPS officer who had been at the scene of the accident. Jordan's blood alcohol content was more than three times the legal limit in Texas. Before the blood test results were known, DPS determined from the accident scene that alcohol had been a large factor in the multiple-car collision and notified the Commission. After investigation, appellee Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission initiated a proceeding against appellant to revoke its mixed beverage permit and mixed beverage late hours permit, claiming it sold or delivered an alcoholic beverage to an intoxicated person and served an individual an alcoholic beverage while it was apparent that the person was obviously intoxicated and that intoxication was the proximate cause of damages, in violation of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code. After a hearing, appellee adopted the Administrative Law Judge's (ALJ's) Proposal for Decision, including the findings of fact and conclusions of law, and canceled appellant’s permits. Appellant brought suit in district court which affirmed the appellee’s order canceling both permits. Appellant now appealed that judgment.
Was the cancellation of two of appellant's permits proper?
The court affirmed the judgment and held that the lower court's order was supported by substantial evidence. Thus, it was not arbitrary or capricious, and was not affected by other error of law. In so concluding, the court explained that, first, Tex. Alco. Bev. Code Ann. § 11.61(14) permitted appellee to cancel appellant's permit because it sold an alcoholic beverage to an intoxicated person and the statute did not require a specific intent. Second, evidence of the intoxicated person's blood alcohol was admissible in appellee's civil proceeding. Third, there was no abuse of discretion in allowing a witness with extensive training and experience to testify as an expert. Lastly, the principle of comparative fault did not apply to the revocation of appellant's permit under Tex. Alco. Bev. Code Ann. § 2.02(b), which only required that the intoxication of the individual who was provided alcohol while intoxicated be a proximate cause of the damages suffered.