Dram Shop; Barroom Brawl; Skull Fracture

Style of Case: Marvin and Gina Allen vs. Tisa Winfree d/b/a Teezer’s
Client:    Tisa Winfree d/b/a Teezer’s
Trial End Date:    6/19/2013
Court:    Twentieth Judicial Circuit Court of St. Clair County, IL
Type of Case:    Dram Shop, Negligence
Judge:    The Honorable Vincent Lopinot
Reed Armstrong Lawyer who tried the case:  Michael C. Hobin
Jury Verdict

Plaintiffs brought common law negligence and Dram Shop Act claims against Teezer’s (a Collinsville, IL bar) essentially claiming the bar did not provide adequate security and/or failed to timely phone the police.

Plaintiffs were patrons of Teezer’s and claimed to merely have been playing darts when Mr. Allen was slammed to the concrete floor by an alleged intoxicated patron (AIP). He got up but was once again slammed to the ground by another AIP striking his head on the pool table on his way down. His wife Mrs. Allen then jumped into the brawl before the two AIPs and a friend left the scene. One AIP fled on foot and got away. The other AIP was apprehended down the road as a passenger in a traffic stop; he was charged with misdemeanor battery but not public intoxication. The Allen’s both testified the Teezer’s bartender was drinking shots with the AIPs in the bar before the incident (which the bartender denied). In plaintiffs’ case in chief, the bartender testified the AIPs were not intoxicated when the physical altercation occurred requesting clarification as follows: “You mean were they drunk? Or drunk, drunk?” Plaintiffs’ counsel honed in on the bartender’s concession the AIPs were trouble in general (having known them since early childhood) and problem drinkers but explained that is why she “never, ever served them shots” before the incident. Mrs. Allen broke down crying when recalling the precise second she looked at her unconscious husband on the concrete floor of Teezer’s. A defense rebuttal fact witness, another patron of Teezer’s on the night in question and pre-incident bar acquaintance of Mrs. Allen, contradicted some of Mrs. Allen’s testimony concerning both negligence and damages.

As to the Dram Shop counts, the only evidence of AIP intoxication came from plaintiffs themselves. As to the negligence counts, defendant argued the sole proximate cause of the physical altercation was either Mrs. Allen (for bringing the AIPs back into the bar after the bartender asked them to leave) or the AIPs.

Mr. Allen had more than $26,000 medical bills. He was ambulanced from one hospital to another and remained hospitalized two days with a skull fracture, broken ankle and loss of hearing. He was off work for three months with lost wages of approximately $10,000. Mrs. Allen had a consortium claim. After deliberating for approximately ten minutes the jury returned defense verdicts on all claims.

Last Demand:     $80,000
Verdict:     Defense Verdict on Dram Shop and Negligence Claims