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12/21/87 Casimir Jodelis, A/K/A v. Robert Harris

December 21, 1987

JUODELIS

v.

ROBERT HARRIS, APPELLANT (WEST LAWN MEMORIAL AMVETS' POST 192, APPELLEE)



SUPREME COURT OF ILLINOIS

CASIMIR JODELIS, a/k/a Kazys Jodelis, a/k/a Casimir

517 N.E.2d 1055, 118 Ill. 2d 482, 115 Ill. Dec. 369 1987.IL.1895

Appeal from the Appellate Court for the First District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, the Hon. Edwin M. Berman, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE WARD delivered the opinion of the court. JUSTICE SIMON, specially Concurring.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE WARD

The plaintiff, Casimir Jodelis, filed an action in the circuit court of Cook County seeking damages for personal injuries suffered when he was struck by an automobile driven by the defendant, Robert Harris. Harris filed a third-party complaint for contribution against West Lawn Memorial Amvets' Post 192 (Amvets), pursuant to the Illinois Dramshop Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 43, par. 135), and the Contribution Among Joint Tortfeasors Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 70, pars. 301 through 305). The circuit court allowed Amvets' motion to dismiss the third-party complaint, and the appellate court affirmed (138 Ill. App. 3d 457). We allowed Harris' petition for leave to appeal (107 Ill. 2d R. 315).

On July 19, 1978, Amvets owned and operated a tavern where the plaintiff consumed alcoholic beverages, which allegedly caused him to become intoxicated. The plaintiff left the tavern and attempted to cross the street in front of the tavern. He sustained personal injuries when he was struck by Harris' car and sued Harris, claiming negligence. As stated, the circuit court allowed Amvets' motion to dismiss the third-party complaint Harris filed against it. The appellate court, in affirming, held that a dramshop is not liable under the Dramshop Act in a third-party action for contribution where the original plaintiff is the intoxicated patron.

The basic question in this appeal is whether a third-party plaintiff (Harris) has a cause of action under the Contribution Act against a dramshop (Amvets) where the claimed ground of liability is the Dramshop Act.

The relevant statutory provisions are: section 14 of article VI of the Liquor Control Act of 1934 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 43, par. 135 (now section 6-21)) (Dramshop Act), and section 2(a) of "An Act in relation to contribution among joint tortfeasors" (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 70, par. 302(a) (Contribution Act)). The Dramshop Act provides in part:

"Every person who is injured in person or property by any intoxicated person, has a right of action in his own name, severally or jointly, against any person who by selling or giving alcoholic liquor, causes the intoxication of such person." (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 43, par. 135.)

The section of the Contribution Act concerned here provides:

"here 2 or more persons are subject to liability in tort arising out of the same injury to person or property, or the same wrongful death, there is a right of contribution among them, even though judgment has not been entered against any or all of them." (Emphasis added.) Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 70, par. 302(a).

Harris argues that he is entitled to contribution from Amvets based upon the strict liability imposed by the Dramshop Act, though Amvets has no liability to the plaintiff. He claims an inchoate right of action for contribution against Amvets on equitable principles enunciated in Skinner v. Reed-Prentice Division Package Machinery Co. (1977), 70 Ill. 2d 1, and codified in the Contribution Act, which provide that financial responsibility for damages will be divided between the persons causing the injury. Harris ...


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