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Camille v. Berry Fertilizers

AUGUST 14, 1975.

JO ANN CAMILLE ET AL., PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,

v.

BERRY FERTILIZERS, INC., ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES. — JO ANN CAMILLE ET AL., PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,

v.

HERRIN FERTILIZER COMPANY, INC., ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Sangamon County; the Hon. HARVEY BEAM, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE TRAPP DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Plaintiffs appeal from the order of the trial court which dismissed with prejudice a complaint seeking damages under "An Act relating to alcoholic liquors," more commonly referred to as the Dramshop Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1971, ch. 43, par. 135).

The order for dismissal found that the legislative purpose of the statute was to regulate the liquor trade, that the defendants were not engaged in such business, and that the liquor was served to plaintiffs' decedent as an incident to a social occasion.

The substance of the complaint is that the corporate defendants sponsored a "chicken fry" for guests and invitees to whom the hosts:

"* * * sold or gave alcoholic liquors to said defendants' guests, invitees and all other persons in attendance at said party for the said purpose or expectation of pecuniary gain or profit in the said defendants' businesses in that by selling or giving alcoholic liquors as aforesaid, the said defendants could reasonably expect to benefit their businesses by promoting good will, winning new customers, closing business deals, making new sales or contracts and, in general, enhance customer relations and the businesses' public image all to the result and effect of a pecuniary gain or profit."

It is alleged that the defendant, Heater, leased the premises to the respective corporate defendants who sponsored the social event.

In argument, it is not contended that the "sale" alleged was in the traditional sense of merchandising the beverage.

It is alleged that the decedent received alcoholic liquor, became intoxicated and died as a consequence of driving his truck into a utility pole.

The thrust of plaintiffs' argument is that the allegation that the defendants have some hope or expectation of future gains or profits from serving as hosts upon this occasion becomes the equivalent of a sale of alcoholic liquor and that such fact calls for a shifting of the social costs to the one who gives alcoholic liquor with such hope or expectation.

Plaintiffs cite cases which contain language speaking of a broad liberal construction of the statute, to the fact that the statute includes the words "selling or giving" and to certain cases wherein a seller of intoxicating liquor who was not licensed or in the liquor business was held to be liable.

They emphasize a fragment of a sentence found in Cruse v. Aden, 127 Ill. 231, 239, 20 N.E. 73, wherein the court speaks of giving:

"* * * a glass of intoxicating liquor to a friend as a mere act of courtesy and politeness, and without any purpose of expectation of gain or profit." (Emphasis in brief.)

Careful examination of many Illinois cases which have been cited or otherwise, shows no authority supporting the arguments, but rather that the law is to the contrary. In Cruse v. Aden, the relation was that of a host and household guest. The question certified to the court was:

"* * * whether or not, under section 9 of the Dram-shop act of this State, a recovery can be had against a person other than a dram-shop keeper, or person who makes a business of dealing in intoxicating liquors, and whether, under said section 9, all persons, though not engaged in the liquor traffic, can be held ...


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