Finis Allen filed a suit against the Wild Country Nightclub in Collinsville and three patrons in a Madison County Court for violating the Illinois Dram Shop Act. While Allen visited the establishment, which is a “country-themed” club for music and dancing, he was assaulted by three men. He alleges that Eric Kinkle, Austin Thilan, and Peter Tobak--who he says were highly intoxicated--punched and kicked him repeatedly. The claim explains that the club was negligent when they served the three men excessive amounts of alcohol. Allen, who was taken to a hospital after the incident and required surgery, is seeking over $50,000 in damages.
Injuries & Expenses
Allen asserts that he suffered “serious, permanent, and disabling” injuries. He is pursuing financial compensation for hospital bills, surgery-related costs, pain, and loss of normal life, lost wages, and future reduced earnings. The suit cites a violation of the Liquor Control Act of 1934. The legislative intent of this Act was protecting the well-being and safety of citizens through provisions that regulate the selling, distributing, and drinking of alcohol.
One provision applies to those who incur injuries either to their person or to property caused by an intoxicated individual. These parties may bring an action against those licensed to sell alcohol when they caused the individual to become intoxicated. Another provision establishes the potential for liability among those who own, lease, or rent property where alcohol is being sold, assuming they are aware of it. Those over the age of 21 may also face potential liability for damages when they allow for underage alcohol consumption on their property or places they pay to rent, including hotel rooms.
Venue & Loss of Society
Civil actions relating to the Liquor Control Act are filed in local circuit courts. Plaintiffs may pursue damages for injuries that are considered to be “means of support” or “loss of society.” They can only claim one of them (not both) when injuries are caused by an intoxicated individual. A loss of society refers to a benefit that a member of the family has from another, such as safety, well-being, guidance, etc.
Other Plaintiffs & Distribution
A surviving recipient of support or society may file a claim for themselves or on behalf of other family members as well. Other qualifying recipients of support or society may join as plaintiffs. When a jury is asked to decide on an appropriate dollar value of damages in these cases, they are not made aware of the statutory limitations (caps) that apply. Courts may facilitate the distribution of settlements or awards among those qualifying recipients of support or society proportionally based on how dependent they were on the deceased.
Years ago, plaintiffs in these cases were eligible to receive a maximum of $15,000 for personal injuries or property damage, while those recovering from losses of support could recover $20,000. In 1999, laws began allowing for reconsideration of the maximum amounts on January 20th each year. These adjustments reflect changes to the consumer price index (CPI) that are reported by the U.S. Department of Labor. The CPI is based in part on changing prices that consumers in urban areas are paying for goods and services. The Illinois Comptroller is responsible for implementing these changes and notifying the courts.
The statute of limitations in the actions is only one year. According to the Illinois Liquor Control Commission's data, the maximum amount that a person may recover in claims that are brought after January 20, 2017, for physical injuries to a person or for property damage is $67,356.23. The maximum amount that may be recovered in losses of means of support or society is $82,324.28.
Those who possess an Illinois license to sell alcohol have safety responsibilities. Continuing to provide alcohol to someone who is clearly intoxicated is potentially creating a safety risk to others. At Benassi & Benassi, P.C., our attorneys have been pursuing justice for Peoria-area injury victims for many years. We deliver results for those involved in motor vehicle accidents, work injuries, incidents of medical malpractice, and more. For a consultation and evaluation of your case contact us at (309) 674-3556 today.