The Chicago Personal Injury Law Blog

State High Court: Strip Club May Be Sued For Fatal Crash

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The St. Charles Sun reported on an Illinois Supreme Court decision allowing wrongful death lawsuits against a Chicago-area strip club for its alleged role in a drunk driving accident. An expectant mother and her unborn child were killed when a car driven by John Homatas crossed the center line and hit them head-on.

He was sentenced to 12 years in prison for driving under the influence and causing three fatalities. Mr. Homatas' passenger, 25-year-old John Chiariello, also was killed in the accident.

But Illinois injury attorney Craig D. Mielke, representing the family of Mr. Chiariello, now has the green light to help the deceased individuals' family members recover wrongful death damages from the strip club Diamonds Gentlemen's Club. The Illinois Supreme Court delivered its opinion in the case, Simmons et al. v. Homatas et al., on March 18 (PDF)

The owners of the strip club, where Mr. Homatas and Mr. Chiariello consumed alcohol prior to the incident, argued that they were not liable for Homatas' actions because it is a "BYOB" establishment. While Diamonds (owned by On Stage Productions Inc.) does not sell alcohol, it permits its customers to bring their own.

Mr. Homatas was seen vomiting in the bathroom. He was asked to leave and was escorted into his vehicle; according to the undisputed facts of the case.

Justices did not allow the suits to be filed under the Illinois Dramshop Act, which only holds parties responsible for alcohol-related injuries if they sell the alcohol, which Diamonds did not do. But the strip club may have been liable when it escorted a drunk Mr. Homatas into his car, according to the decision:

We hold only that where, as here, a defendant is alleged to have removed a patron for being intoxicated, places the patron into a vehicle and requires him to drive off, such facts are sufficient to state a common law negligence cause of action...

Mr. Mielke told reporters he expects the case against On Stage Productions Inc. to begin next year.

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