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Danhof v. Osborne

OPINION FILED MARCH 20, 1957.

MAY DANHOF, APPELLEE,

v.

HARRIET E. OSBORNE, D/B/A DUFFY'S TAVERN, ET AL., APPELLANTS.



APPEAL from the Appellate Court for the Second District; — heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of Marshall County; the Hon. HOWARD WHITE, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE HERSHEY DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Rehearing denied May 20, 1957.

The plaintiff, May Danhof, filed suit in the circuit court of Marshall County under the Liquor Control Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1953, chap. 43, par. 135,) claiming loss of means of support "in consequence of the intoxication" of her husband, Cornelius P. Danhof (also known as "Pelie" Danhof,) who was beaten by one Harold Morris. The defendants are Harriet E. Osborne, d/b/a Duffy's Tavern, and Henry A. Buttell, d/b/a Hank's Tavern.

The jury returned a verdict of $10,000, and the trial court entered judgment for that amount. The defendants appealed to the Appellate Court, Second District, and the judgment was affirmed. (10 Ill. App.2d 529.) The case is here on leave to appeal.

The sole question is whether there is liability under the statute for the acts here complained of, and since the jury has found in the affirmative, the evidence must be viewed in a light favorable to the plaintiff.

Briefly, this is the case before us:

For several months prior to February 24, 1954, the plaintiff's husband, Pelie Danhof, had been carrying on an adulterous affair with Vernetta Morris, the wife of Harold Morris. The plaintiff and Harold were both aware of this and protested to the offending parties.

On the afternoon of February 24, 1954, Pelie went to Duffy's Tavern in Lacon, where he drank with Vernetta and her sister, Virginia Niles. He said he drank 20 beers (jr. size) and 5 glasses of whisky; his companions said it was considerably less than that.

While Pelie, Vernetta and Virginia were in the tavern they were spotted by the plaintiff as she drove by in her car. Later she reported this to Harold, and they set out in the plaintiff's car to "catch them."

Meanwhile, Pelie and Vernetta had gone to Hank's Tavern in Chillicothe, where they were joined by Virginia Niles, George Martin (Virginia's "boy friend"), and Jackie Niles (Virginia's 9-year-old daughter). Pelie said he drank 6 beers at this tavern.

Finding that Pelie and Vernetta were not at Duffy's Tavern, Harold suggested that they might be in Chillicothe. As the plaintiff and Harold drove up to Hank's Tavern in Chillicothe, Pelie and Vernetta were just getting into Pelie's car. Harold jumped out, before the car fully stopped, and went after his wife, saying, "I have caught up with you." Whereupon Pelie got out of the car and tried to stop him, stating: "Let's talk it over — I was just going to take her home." But Harold, undaunted, cursed Pelie, ("You have explained to me for the last time, you ____"), and hit him in the face with his fist. According to Pelie's testimony: "he hit me and I started to go and I stumbled and fell down." The plaintiff said Pelie "just, oh, tripped, and fell and hit his head on the side of the building, and he went down." Pelie said he was so drunk he could not defend himself.

After Harold struck Pelie, he again went after his wife. He caught her, started dragging her by the hair, but she escaped his grasp. At this moment, George Martin came out of the tavern, and Harold went after him too. He knocked Martin down twice (once with a rock, apparently). And after this, he returned to where Pelie was, kicked him in the head and cursed him.

The plaintiff, without checking on her husband's condition, then drove off in her car with Harold. In describing Harold's manner as they left the scene, she said: "He was real excited, and he was still mad, and he said he wished he had beat him up sooner. He wished he had listened to me sooner." At the trial, she testified further regarding Harold's conduct: "I never saw anyone so mad, and so little, to do so much as he did." (Harold, 34 years old, was 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighed 125 pounds; Pelie, aged 51, was 5 feet 7 inches and weighed 195 pounds.)

Later the plaintiff reported the incident to Pelie's employer, the mayor of Lacon, and then went to see her husband at the hospital. Pelie, severely injured, suffered a cerebral concussion, although the skull was not fractured. He was ...


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