Editor’s note: Images in the article and video of the man’s injuries may be disturbing to some viewers.
AUSTIN (KXAN) — A man has filed a lawsuit against a bar on Rainey Street after he said a woman beat him with a broken glass.
“The pain just started to throb,” said Billy Raisch, who filed the suit. “Suddenly my whole shirt was just covered in blood.”
According to the Austin Police Department, officers received a report of an assault at Parlor Room on Feb. 26. Police found the victim, Billy Raisch, but said the suspect had left. The case was then assigned to an investigative unit, but ultimately suspended due to “limited suspect information and witnesses.”
“This is a really tragic and scary case,” said James Wood, Raisch’s attorney.
The lawsuit claims the woman who attacked Raisch was overserved and threw a drink on Raisch’s friend when the friend bumped into the woman. The lawsuit further states the woman hit Raisch with the broken glass repeatedly after he tried to step in.
“Lawsuits against bars are commonly called ‘Dram Shop’ acts. That’s when a bar overserves a patron and the patron goes out and hurts somebody else,” said Wood.
Images included in the lawsuit show the complainant with gashes on his face and his face and shirt covered in blood.
“I was in the hospital for like four or five hours, they were pulling glass out of my face, stitching me up,” Raisch said.
KXAN attempted to reach out to the bar by calling, messaging on social media and showing up in person. Our calls and messages were not returned. When KXAN reporter Brianna Hollis went to the bar, which was listed online as being open, the entrance was chained off and there was no one outside. KXAN will update this story when we receive a response.
Bar incurs no violations from TABC
The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) opened an investigation into the alleged assault in March. The agency found no violations on the Parlor Room’s part that contributed to the incident.
“What we look for in these types of cases is any evidence that shows the bar did not follow policies or allowed someone to overconsume alcohol,” said Chris Porter, TABC spokesperson.
Porter added that if serious injury or death occurs inside a bar, the bar will be in violation of TABC standards if staff do not report it within 24 hours. For minor potential infractions, he said bars have five days to report the incident.
“If it’s a case where it’s happened multiple times before and in TABC’s believe it could lead to more public safety risks, that might be a case where we look for ways to sanction them with heavier penalties or perhaps even cancel the permit altogether,” Porter said.
In cases such as the Parlor Room incident, bar staff are not always obligated to hold someone who’s seen committing a crime, according to Porter.
“Ultimately what we want the bar to do is take the necessary steps to keep their patrons safe,” he said. “In a case where someone, for example, commits and assault and runs out the door it may not be the safest option for bar or security staff to hold that person until police arrive.”
Cases can be reopened if new information is found that could indicate a potential violation, Porter said.
How common is it to sue bars for issues like this?
“These lawsuits are very common. In fact, some law firms are dedicated entirely to suing individuals and bars who allegedly overserve,” said retired judge Charlie Baird.
He has nothing to do with the lawsuit against Parlor Room, but said the fact that there’s no recorded blood alcohol content for the woman who allegedly hit Raisch with the glass could make proving whether she was overserved difficult.
“It’s going to be difficult to find witnesses… and are people willing to get in involved? What did they see, and in situations like this – what was their own level of intoxication?” Baird said.
However, also said he believes it’s becoming more common to win “Dram Shop” suits against bars.
“I think society is willing to impose upon bars a high degree of liability by saying these individuals come in there, and you know its a risk they’re going to overconsume and therefore be dangerous to themselves or others,” Baird said. “And therefore I think the odds are more and more in favor of being successful in a suit like this.”