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Jager v. Illinois Liquor Control Com.

OPINION FILED JUNE 20, 1979.

RICHARD C. JAGER, D/B/A JAKE'S DEAD END LOUNGE, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,

v.

ILLINOIS LIQUOR CONTROL COMMISSION ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



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

MISS JUSTICE MCGILLICUDDY DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

This case involves two administrative review actions filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County by Richard C. Jager, d/b/a Jake's Dead End Lounge, against the Illinois Liquor Control Commission (State commission) and Joseph Stanek, the local liquor commissioner for the City of McHenry (local commissioner). Both suits were brought pursuant to article VII, section 8(b) of the Dramshop Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 43, par. 154(a)) and challenged orders by the State commission affirming the local commissioner's refusal to reissue the plaintiff's liquor license. The first suit involved the plaintiff's license for the year commencing May 1, 1976. The second suit related to the license for the year commencing May 1, 1977. In both suits the circuit court affirmed the decision of the Illinois Liquor Control Commission. The plaintiff appeals in both instances and, since the evidence in both suits is identical, the appeals have been consolidated.

The record shows that the controversy involved in these suits arose in July 1975 when the chief of police of the City of McHenry filed a complaint before the local commissioner. In the complaint the plaintiff was charged with violations of the McHenry ordinances regulating the use of the premises of liquor establishments following closing hours (McHenry Mun. Code 1961, ch. 11, art. V, §§ 55, 55.1) and the drinking age within the municipality (McHenry Mun. Code 1961, ch. 11, art. V, § 59). In addition, it was alleged that he violated the ordinance prohibiting tumultuous conduct (McHenry Mun. Code 1961, ch. 12, art. VIII, § 45(a)) or the statute on disorderly conduct (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 38, par. 26-1). The complaint enumerated 22 specific incidents between August 1970 and July 1975 occurring at the lounge where these violations occurred.

Subsequent to the filing of the complaint the plaintiff and the local commissioner entered into an agreement on July 23, 1975. Under the terms of this agreement the local commissioner promised that no hearing would be held on the complaint "unless this Agreement is violated." In return, the plaintiff agreed to voluntarily suspend the operation of the lounge for 21 days and that:

"* * * if a Tumultuous or Disorderly Conduct does occur in or on Jake's Dead End Lounge, [he would] call the McHenry Police Department immediately and sign a Complaint against all those persons who participate in any such conduct or any violation of any applicable laws."

The local commissioner denied the plaintiff's application for the reissuance of his license for the year commencing May 1, 1976. The plaintiff appealed this decision to the State commission and the State commission remanded the matter to the local commissioner for a hearing. On December 20, 1976, the chief of police filed a second complaint against the plaintiff. This complaint contained further allegations of violations of the disorderly conduct statute and tumultuous conduct ordinance, enumerating six additional incidents which occurred at the lounge during the period between August 1975 and March 1976. A hearing on the December 20, 1976, complaint and the complaint filed in July 1975 was held before the local commissioner.

At this hearing, the City of McHenry produced the testimony of the plaintiff and 16 other witnesses. Seven of these witnesses were patrons of the Dead End Lounge while the other nine were members of the McHenry Police Department. The testimony, in large part, related to 11 incidents, occurring during the period of January 1975 to March 1976, which had been cited in the two complaints. The witnesses testified that the following events took place at the lounge:

1. On January 4, 1975, a fight occurred during which Vaughn West was knocked unconscious. West also suffered two black eyes, required 15 stitches to close a cut in his mouth and his legs were temporarily paralyzed. The plaintiff was present at the time of the fight and later told the police that there was no problem at the bar.

2. On January 28, 1975, a police officer observed a gun being passed between two individuals inside the tavern.

3. On June 3, 1975, an altercation took place inside and outside the bar. According to the testimony of two officers, the plaintiff was present at the time.

4. On June 8, 1975, Murray Bolger testified that he received a cut from a beer glass. Bolger claimed that he fell after his brother, William, "nudged" him. However, a police officer stated that he saw William strike Murray on the head with a beer bottle which broke.

5. On June 23, 1975, a patron was struck with a pool cue during an altercation.

6. On July 11, 1975, a fight occurred outside the tavern.

7. On July 14, 1975, a police officer observed three individuals standing in front of the tavern shouting profanities ...


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