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Fort Worth bar may lose license for serving underage drinker

Posted 12:10pm on Wednesday, Jul. 31, 2013

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission has filed administrative charges against a local bar accused of serving an underage drinker later killed in a car crash.

The charges against the Chat Room Pub at 1263 W. Magnolia Ave., including sale of an alcoholic beverage to a minor, could lead to punishments ranging from a fine to revocation of its liquor permit, officials said.

Lt. John Graham, a supervisor in the commission’s Arlington district office, said the charges also include failing to control the premises and permitting a minor to possess and consume an alcoholic beverage.

The case will go to the State Office of Administrative Hearings, and a judge will conduct a hearing on the charges.

Graham said the charges were filed after the agency investigated the death of Andrew Grimes, 19, of Fort Worth, who was drinking at the bar last fall.

“What we’re trying to prove is that the person was overserved and that a reasonable person should have known that,” Graham said.

Shortly after leaving the bar, Grimes was driving his Nissan 240 north on Hemphill Street at about 1 a.m. Sept. 21 when he struck a signal box south of downtown. Grimes died that afternoon at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth, according to the Tarrant County medical examiner.

The commission is not releasing any medical or toxicology information.

Andrew Grimes’ parents, Stevan Grimes and Danielle Leroux, filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the bar this month in Tarrant County civil court. The suit accuses the Chat Room of knowingly serving alcohol to their son even though the employees knew that he was intoxicated beyond the legal limit and that he was underage.

Seth Anderson, an attorney for the parents, could not be reached for comment. The bar’s owners did not return calls seeking comment.

“Andrew Grimes was a minor and was obviously intoxicated to the extent that he presented a clear danger to himself and others,” the lawsuit stated.

The suit alleges that the Chat Room was negligent because it encouraged employees to continue serving intoxicated customers and that the bar failed to have policies to discourage employees from serving people who had too much to drink.

The bar failed to provide adequate training for employees to recognize the signs of intoxication and the dangers of overserving, and it failed to require that employees attend beverage commission training courses on serving alcohol, according to the suit.

Graham said training includes learning the signs of when someone is intoxicated, such as slurred speech.

“We want people to use their common sense, anything to make that light come on: ‘Maybe I should get that person a taxi,’” he said.

Bars have the right to refuse anyone service, and they are responsible for everyone they sell to, Graham said.

Elizabeth Campbell, 817-390-7696 Twitter: @fwstliz

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