Recent case highlights law regarding liability and liquor sales

Amelia Flood Sep. 17, 2010, 10:55am

Al Capone

While bar fights are common, a recent case in Madison County has highlighted that, to bar owners, they can be expensive events.

Those selling alcohol in Illinois are subject to the state's so-called "Dram Shop Act," part of the state's liquor law.

The term "dram shop," goes back to 1725, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

At that time, dram shop meant a place that served drams, or small drinks of alcohol.

Illinois is one of a number of states including neighboring Missouri to have some kind of dram shop law.

Under the Illinois dram shop statute, bars and those selling beer, wine and other liquor can be held financially liable for damages caused by those who become intoxicated by drinking the vendors' products.

Dram shop counts can be combined with other claims in Illinois cases as well.

Last week, an Ottawa man, James Ceja, won $35,000 in a dram shop suit against Roper's Regal Beagle, a Godfrey tavern.

In his suit, Ceja claimed the bar served the alcohol that fueled a fight with a local man.

Ceja's eye socket was shattered in the brawl.

In the Ceja case, the bar was sued along with Michael Whittman, the man who fought Ceja.

The Illinois Dram Shop Act is part of the Liquor Control Act of 1934.

The Liquor Control Act was passed just a year after Congress
repealed the 18th Amendment, ending the prohibition of alcohol manufacture and sales nationally that gave rise to organized crime in Chicago and other cities.

The 18th Amendment had been passed in 1919 and took effect in 1920, beginning "Prohibition."

Colorful Illinois characters such as Chicago gangster Al Capone had his hey day during the dry days of Prohibition.

The Dram Shop Act statute is found as ILCS 235 5/6 -21.

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