As we mentioned in Morning Docket, Rick’s Cabaret has been served with a lawsuit alleging that the gentleman’s establishment over-served one of its patrons.

Of course, nobody would care about alleged over-serving if the guy had come home from the strip club and beat his wife. In the instant case, a man left Rick’s and drove around at 130 mph with no headlights on, eventually slamming into another car and killing a high school senior.

The driver, Erasmo Ramirez, survived the crash and is serving 15 years for intoxicated manslaughter. The family of the victim is suing Rick’s for its program that gives employees incentives for how many drinks they sell.

I know that you are shocked, shocked to find out that strip clubs want employees to get out there and sell drinks….

The lawsuit contains allegations about Rick’s serving policy. When we last spoke about dram shop strip clubs, a commenter suggested that Scarlett’s was a non-peer institution where over-serving wouldn’t be surprising:

I’ve been to this strip club. The fact anyone is surprised they served some guy who may have had a few too many is ridiculous. When I was there a chimpanzee in loudly colored chinos was flinging feces on the wall and claiming he was owed an hour in the champagne room due to his detrimental reliance on something or other.

Surely, a prestigious establishment like Rick’s wouldn’t rely on such base intoxication. From CultureMap Houston:

According to a Monday press release from the Lanier Law Firm, which is leading the suit on behalf of the Jones family, entertainers at Rick’s Cabaret are required to pay a nightly fee to work at the club. To help pay for the fee, the nightclub has created a system in which its employees accumulate “credits” based on the number of drinks they sell to patrons.

Attorney Gene Egdorf from Lanier Law told CultureMap Monday that surveillance videos from Rick’s Cabaret in northwest Houston show servers at the club selling beers and shots to Ramirez, who currently is serving a 15-year sentence for intoxicated manslaughter, before kicking him out of the club once he was unable to pay.

The Texas Dram Shop Act has been significantly weakened in recent years (gavel bang, young Latham & Watkins attorney who told me that in Austin while we were drinking).

Still, this Lanier Law attorney sounds appropriately outraged:

“I’ve been practicing law for 21 years and I’ve seen a lot of terrible accidents and deaths. This is easily the most horrendous case I’ve ever worked on, though. The word ‘tragedy’ is not enough the events leading to the Emily’s death.”…

“The man blew a .295, three times the legal limit in Texas, when he was finally obtained after the accident,” Egdorf said. “Rick’s didn’t even put him in a cab. They just threw him out on the street. It’s wrong on so many levels. Going that fast without his lights on, Emily didn’t even see him coming.”

The man couldn’t pay his bar tab, and Rick’s was supposed to buy him a cab? He’s lucky all they did was throw him out. A non-peer establishment would have beat his drunk ass down and let him sleep it off in a back alley.

Which, of course, might have been the safest course of action for all involved.

Houston strip club sued for over-serving patrons after horrific death of high school senior [CultureMap Houston]

Earlier: Is Your Law School A Dram Shop?


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