Belleville bars named in hit-and-run accident suit

Andrea Dearden Apr. 23, 2012, 1:59am

A woman injured in a head-on hit-and-run crash is suing the alleged drunk driver who caused it and the bars she claims served him alcohol.

Tina Hughes filed a lawsuit March 30 in St. Clair County Circuit Court against Simpson Sylvester, Demo's Sports Bar Inc., Christine E. Todd and Michael Todd. Suzanne Demarse, Thomrick Corporation, doing business as Foley's Tavern and Maxine Investment Corporation, are also named as defendants.

The alleged crash happened on April 1, 2011 on North Belt West in Belleville. Hughes says she was driving her Nissan Altima east on the road. She says Sylvester, driving a Jeep Commander in the opposite direction, crossed the center lane of traffic and crashed into the front of her vehicle. Hughes says she was seriously hurt in the head-on collision. She says Sylvester violated the law when he "failed to give aid and fled the scene."

Hughes claims Sylvester was under the influence of alcohol with a blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit of .08 at the time of the crash. She accuses the driver of negligence and asks to be awarded more than $100,000 in damages for medical expenses, disability and disfigurement and loss of income.

Hughes says prior to the crash Sylvester had been at Demo's Sports Bar on North Belt West in Belleville and Foley's Tavern on West Main in Belleville. She says both bars sold alcoholic beverages to Sylvester, causing him to be intoxicated when he got behind the wheel of his vehicle. Hughes accuses Demo's Sports Bar and its owners, Christine and Michael Todd, along with Foley's Tavern owner Thomrick Corporation, of violating the Illinois Dram Shop Act.

Suzanne Demarse, the owner of the building occupied by Demo's Sports Bar, and Maxine Investment Corporation, the owner of the building occupied by Foley's Tavern, are also listed as defendants and accused of violating the Dram Shop Act. Hughes contends the company knew alcohol was being served in the bar and is, therefore, liable for the crash caused by an allegedly intoxicated patron.

Hughes is asking to be awarded a total of more than $250,000 in damages from Demo's Sports Bar, the Todds, Demarse, Thomrick Corporation and Maxine Investment Corporation along with court costs.

Attorney Kevin Boyne of Belleville is representing Hughes.

St. Clair County Circuit Court Case No. 12-L-162

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