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Keeler Mart Liquors, Inc. v. Daley

OPINION FILED JANUARY 26, 1978.

KEELER MART LIQUORS, INC., PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

RICHARD J. DALEY, MAYOR AND LOCAL LIQUOR COMM'R, ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. ARTHUR L. DUNNE, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE STAMOS DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

This is an appeal from a judgment of the circuit court of Cook County in an administrative review proceeding pursuant to the Administrative Review Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 110, par. 264 et seq.). The circuit court reversed a decision of the Local Liquor Commissioner of the City of Chicago (hereinafter "Commissioner") to suspend plaintiff's retail liquor license for a 10-day period. The suspension was based upon a finding of the Commissioner that:

"[O]n March 8, 1975, the licensee corporation, by and through its agent, SAM SCHISSEL, employee, knowingly dispensed alcoholic beverages to wit: 12 cans of Schlitz beer, on the licensed premises to a person under the age of 19 years, namely, FRANK RAMIREZ, who was 15, contrary to Chap. 43, § 131, Ill. Rev. Stat., 1973."

The sole issue presented for review concerns whether plaintiff established by clear and convincing evidence that the finding of the Commissioner that plaintiff's agent sold alcoholic beverages to a person under the age of 19 years is contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence.

A review of the evidence adduced in connection with proceedings to revoke plaintiff's local retail license establishes that on March 8, 1975, at approximately 7 p.m., Frank Ramirez entered Keeler Mart Liquors, Inc., a package liquor store, located at 4200 West Armitage Avenue in Chicago, Illinois. Ramirez purchased two "six-packs" of beer manufactured by the Schlitz Brewing Company. Ramirez left the store in possession of the beer and was stopped by Chicago police officer Vincent J. Leonardi. Ramirez informed the officer that he had purchased the beer from the licensee's establishment. At the time of the purchase Ramirez was 15 years of age.

During cross-examination by licensee's attorney, Ramirez admitted that he had understood the personal consequences of his illegal purchase. Apparently unsatisfied with this admission, licensee's counsel questioned Ramirez further:

"BY MR. GOLDBERG: Q. And my question was, even knowing that, you went in and attempted as you said, and did indeed make a purchase of alcoholic beverage?

A. Yes." (Emphasis added.)

Although inventoried by the investigating officers, the two "six-packs" of beer were not introduced into evidence.

Officer Leonardi testified that he immediately entered licensee's establishment and confronted licensee's employee. According to Officer Leonardi, the employee identified himself as Sam Schissel and admitted that he had sold the beer in question to Ramirez; that he had not requested that Ramirez produce proof of his age prior to the sale; and, that he did not know Ramirez' age. Schissel testified that on the date in question he had, indeed, worked for licensee behind the package goods counter but did not recall that he had sold alcohol to Ramirez on that date or had made any admissions to Officer Leonardi in connection with the sale. Schissel, however, admitted that it was "possible" that he had sold the beer to Ramirez.

We note at the outset that the facts of the instant case are not in dispute. There can be no question that on the date in question, two "six-packs" of Schlitz beer were sold to a minor by an employee of licensee, Keeler Liquor Mart Inc. This evidence is uncontradicted and there is no reason to believe that the beer in question was merely a figment of the parties' imaginations. Indeed, the testimony of Sam Schissel, licensee's agent, does not deny the fact of the same or the nature of the product as "beer."

Licensee maintains that the evidence adduced at the hearing held in connection with proceedings to suspend its license, failed to establish that the beer sold was an "alcoholic liquor" within the meaning of section 12 of article VI of the Liquor Control Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 43, par. 131). Licensee asserts that such evidence was insufficient in that the beer was not submitted to chemical analysis or introduced into evidence.

Section 12 of article VI of the Liquor Control Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 43, par. 131) provides in pertinent part:

"No licensee nor any officer, associate, member, representative, agent or employee of such licensee shall sell, give or deliver alcoholic liquor to any person under the age of 21 years, or in the case ...


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