Two men from Plainfield, John Bailey and Alberto Delatorre, filed suit in Will County Court against Bedrocks Craft Beer & Pizza and Kevin Troesch and Jacob Ward seeking in excess of $50,000 in damages. The parties had all visited the establishment in 2016 and later that night ended up in a vehicle collision with police involvement. Attorney Susan Fransen says her two clients were injury victims in a situation that was fueled by excessive alcohol consumption at Bedrocks.
The suit alleges that Troesch was driving Ward’s 2002 Saturn and deliberately rammed into Bailey’s 2007 Mercedes. The plaintiffs claim to have been traveling cautiously and safely when the collision occurred that resulted in Bailey sustaining a broken arm and Delatorre suffering severe back injuries. Bedrock Craft Beer, a bar in Shorewood, is named as partially liable in the claim for “over-serving” alcohol to Treosch and Ward. The two were extremely intoxicated, which is believed to have led to the car accident on U.S. Route 52 near the City of Joliet. This type of liability is based on Dram Shop Law which allows for recovery from vendors of alcohol who contributed to injuries caused by those who become intoxicated.
In Illinois, the state regulates those who are licensed to produce, distribute, transport, sell and serve liquor through the IL Liquor Control Commission in accordance with the Liquor Control Act of 1934. The statute explains that part of the fees that are collected in the process of licensing are added to the state’s Dram Shop Fund. In addition, most licensees are required to maintain dram shop liability insurance. The law allows for those injured by the actions of an intoxicated individual to file a claim for damages against the licensed alcohol provider. Recovery for damages may be for personal injuries, damages to property and losses of support or society.
For a claim to succeed, the injured party must prove the following:
- Injuries or property damage were caused by an intoxicated party
- The alcohol vendor sold or otherwise provides the alcohol
- Consumption of the alcohol led to their intoxication
- Injuries sustained were caused by the intoxication (to some degree)
Illinois law does not allow for liability for those providing alcohol to social guests; however, an exception exists when the host provides liquor to those under the age of 21. The state annually updates that Dram Shop Limits of Liability. In 2016, the liability limit for each injured party is $65,990, and for losses of support or society, the limit is $80,654. The state maintains a fund that serves as a “back-up” for situations where an insurance provider is deemed insolvent. In claims that result in a jury award for dram shop liability, any award in excess of the liability limits is reduced accordingly. Also, the state’s fund will only pay for damages that remain after any insurance policies have first paid up to their monetary limits. A jury verdict cannot expand the statutory caps on damages.