Ninth Court affirms ruling dismissing Delta Downs from $1M dram shop suit

By David Yates | Aug 3, 2017

BEAUMONT — A dram shop suit against a Louisiana casino doesn’t belong in a Texas district court, according to an Aug. 3 opinion issued by the Ninth Court of Appeals. 

Las June, Michael Simmons filed a lawsuit in Jefferson County District Court against Boyd Gaming Corp., Delta Downs Racetrack Casino and Hotel and Dr. Billy Eston Horton, seeking up to $1 million in damages.

Simmons alleges that on May 29, 2016, Delta Downs continued to serve alcoholic drinks to Horton even though it was obvious he was intoxicated to the extent that he presented a clear danger to himself and to other persons.

After leaving the casino, Horton attempted to drive himself home and negligently drove the wrong way, where he severely struck Simmons' vehicle, allegedly causing severe and permanent disabling injuries to him, the lawsuit alleges.

While Simmons maintained Delta Downs and Boyd Gaming continued to serve alcoholic beverage to an obviously intoxicated person, the out-of-state business argued the court did not have jurisdiction over the dram shop lawsuit. 

The trial court agreed and on Dec. 13 Simmons filed an appeal, court records show.

The Ninth Court found that while the Casino does advertise in Southeast Texas and purchase goods from vendors within the state, Simmons failed to demonstrate that a Texas court could exercise specific or general jurisdiction over Simmons’ Dram Shop Act claims.

“Given evidence reflecting that Delta Downs’ principal place of business is in Louisiana, where it operates Delta Downs, together with (a) declaration stating that Boyd Gaming’s principal place of business is in Nevada, the trial court did not err when it concluded that the companies were not at home in Texas,” the opinion states.

Simmons is represented by attorneys Newton B. Schwartz Sr., Vincent K. Lo and Mabel Lee-Lo of of Houston.

Delta Downs is represented by attorneys David E. James and Mark Freeman. 

Jefferson County District Court Case No. 198636

Appeals case No. 09-16-00470-CV

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