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A provider of alcoholic beverages is only liable if 1) the alcoholic beverages were provided when the patron was obviously intoxicated to the extent that he presented a clear danger to himself and others, Tex. Alco. Bev. Code Ann. § 2.02(b)(1) (1995), and 2) the intoxication of the recipient of the alcoholic beverage was a proximate cause of damages suffered. Tex. Alco. Bev. Code Ann. § 2.02(b)(2) (1995).
Appellee nightclub patron, Tressie O’Brien, was approached by appellant nightclub owner, Konstantinos Venetoulias, who asked her to join him and some friends at the bar. Appellee accepted a drink only after nightclub owner assured her that a friend or a cab would take her home. After drinking until the nightclub closed, nightclub owner took appellee to her car and appellee later was involved in a car accident which resulted in injuries. Appellee filed suit under the Texas Dram Shop Act. Appellants, nightclub and the owner, were deemed to be one-third negligent and the trial court awarded appellee actual and punitive damages. Appellants challenged the decision, complaining of the sufficiency of the evidence to support the trial court's findings.
Under the circumstances, could the appellants be held liable under the Texas Dram Shop Act?
The court affirmed holding that a tavern owner could be sued for injuries resulting from an individual voluntarily becoming intoxicated. Appellee's resultant injuries were foreseeable to nightclub owner when he took appellee to her car, thus he violated his duty under the Dram Shop Act. According to the court, the risk and likelihood of injury from serving alcohol to an intoxicated person whom the licensee knew will probably drive a car was as readily foreseen as injury resulting from setting loose a live rattlesnake in a shopping mall.