A Texas court of appeals has allowed a Dallas topless bar to send a stripper’s civil damage claims to arbitration after she lost a leg in a car accident because the club allegedly allowed her to drive home drunk.
Joy Lantrip was working as an exotic dancer at Bucks Cabaret in 2016 when she suffered severe injuries in a single-car accident after leaving the club. Lantrip sued the club in a Dallas state district court for gross negligence and violations of the Texas Dram Shop Act for allowing her to leave its premises after she was served an excessive amount of alcohol. Lantrip also claimed in her petition that Bucks was negligent in requiring her to consume alcohol while at work.
In response to Lantrip’s lawsuit, Bucks moved to compel arbitration citing a provision in a lease agreement she signed stating that any dispute arising from “working at the club” would be decided by binding arbitration. Lantrip contended that her claims were independent of the lease and outside the scope of arbitration because Bucks sold her alcohol, making her a patron. A trial court later denied the Bucks’ motion to compel arbitration, a ruling the club appealed to Dallas’ Fifth Court of Appeals.
In its decision in Bucks Cabaret v. Lantrip, the Fifth Court focused on whether Lantrip’s claims that she was overserved alcohol while working at Bucks fell within the scope of the arbitration provision.
“Although Lantrip urges that she was a patron because Bucks sold her alcoholic beverages, the fact that she purchased drinks is not necessarily inconsistent with her working under the terms of the lease at the time,” wrote Justice Ada Brown. “Indeed, Bucks could not require Lantrip to purchase drinks if she were merely a patron.”
“Focusing not on her causes of action but the petition’s factual allegations, including an allegation that Bucks required her to drink alcoholic beverages, and resolving any doubts in favor of arbitration, we conclude her claims fall squarely within the scope of the lease’s arbitration provision,” Brown wrote.
“Because the lease’s arbitration provision is a valid arbitration agreement and Lantrip’s claims fell within the scope of that provision, the trial court abused its discretion in denying Bucks’ motion to compel arbitration,” Brown concluded in the decision.