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Watra, Inc. v. License Appeal Com.

OPINION FILED APRIL 27, 1979.

WATRA, INC., ET AL., PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,

v.

LICENSE APPEAL COMMISSION, CITY OF CHICAGO ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



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

MR. JUSTICE LORENZ DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Rehearing denied May 25, 1979.

Plaintiffs appeal from an order of the circuit court affirming the decision of the Local Liquor Control Commissioner of the City of Chicago and the License Appeal Commission revoking plaintiffs' liquor license. The license was revoked when the Local Liquor Control Commissioner found that Boleslaw Potoczak, plaintiffs' agent, committed an aggravated battery (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 38, par. 12-4) upon a customer and failed to render assistance to the customer or call the police. On appeal, plaintiffs contend: (1) the Local Liquor Control Commissioner's original order of revocation is invalid because it was not served upon them within five days of the hearing, (2) the License Appeal Commission's order affirming the revocation is invalid because it was signed only by the chairman, and (3) the decision is not supported by substantial evidence.

The following pertinent evidence was adduced at the hearing before the Local Liquor Control Commissioner.

For the Defendants

Joseph C. Drozd

He is a radio dispatcher for the City of Chicago. At about midnight on June 25, 1977, he was in the Watra Tavern at 4758 South Pulaski with Teressa Piaszczynski. He ordered two beers and was charged $.65 each. About one half hour later he ordered three beers for himself, Teressa and another patron and was charged $1.25 each. When he asked why the price had increased the waitress told him because there was entertainment in the back room. He placed the money for the beers on the bar, told the waitress he did not want the beers and started to leave the tavern. As he opened the door he saw "these two gentlemen running after me with cue sticks." One of them, an elderly man named Novak, started poking him with the stick while the other man, Boleslaw Potoczak, tried to grab him by the arm. Potoczak hit him in the back with the cue stick. He was able to break loose, run outside and close the door behind him. When Potoczak opened the door to follow him, the door struck Novak. Potoczak and Novak "came charging out of the door." Novak's hand was bleeding and Potoczak said, "You done it with the door" and "I get you for this." He walked toward his car to get away, but Novak hit him across the shoulder with the cue stick. When he tried to pull the stick from Novak, both he and Novak fell to the ground. Potoczak yelled, "I kill you, you s.o.b." and, swinging the stick "like a baseball bat," hit him across the head. The blow knocked him out. When he got up his nose felt broken and he could not see out of his right eye. As he staggered to his car he heard a woman holler that she had called an ambulance. He was taken to Holy Cross Hospital and placed in intensive care. He remained in the hospital from June 25 until July 8.

On cross-examination he stated that he left $3.70 on the bar for the three beers and a tip. He told the barmaid he did not understand why the price of the beer had been increased. He did not have a conversation with Potoczak about the price of beer, nor did he inform Potoczak or Novak that he was leaving. Potoczak appeared to have been drinking, but did not seem intoxicated. Although he remembered having conversations with Officers Bamberger and Zawila while he was hospitalized, he denied telling either of them that the barmaid referred him to the owner and that he asked the owner why the price of beer had been increased. He further denied telling the officers that Novak and Potoczak "banged" his head against the door. He denied striking Potoczak or Novak with a cue stick.

Teressa Piaszczynski

She substantially corroborated Dorzd's testimony concerning the incident at the Watra Tavern on June 25, 1977. When Potoczak opened the door to go after Drozd, he struck Novak in the head with the door. Novak's forehead was bleeding. Potoczak and Novak continued to hit Drozd with cue sticks outside of the tavern. After Potoczak struck Drozd on the head and threatened to kill him she called the police and an ambulance. She did not see Drozd strike either Novak or Potoczak.

Anthony Zawila, Chicago Police Officer

He visited the Watra on June 26, 1977, to investigate the incident which occurred the night before. Zawila interviewed Potoczak who stated he had been involved in an "altercation" with a customer over the price of beer. When Potoczak approached the customer to ask what the problem was, the customer grabbed his arm. Potoczak became fearful of bodily harm so he struck the customer with a cue stick. The cue stick, which Potoczak showed him, was broken in half. On the same day he interviewed Drozd in the intensive care unit of Holy Cross Hospital.

On cross-examination he stated that Drozd did not state that he approached the owner, touched the owner's arm and asked why the price of beer had been raised. Drozd did not state that he was taken outside or that his head was "banged" against the front door. Drozd stated that the owner of the tavern and Novak struck him with a cue stick as he was trying to leave the tavern. Drozd also ...


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