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12/14/89 Angela Rinkenberger, v. Robert Cook

December 14, 1989

ANGELA RINKENBERGER, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT

v.

ROBERT COOK, DEFENDANT (STEVE SOLTIS, JR., D/B/A STEVE'S SOUTHSIDE MARKET, ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES)

"IN NO EVENT SHALL THE JUDGMENT OR RECOVERY UNDER THIS ACT FOR INJURY TO THE PERSON OR TO THE PROPERTY OF ANY PERSON AS AFORESAID EXCEED $15,000." (ILL. RE

v.

STAT. 1977, CH. 43, PAR. 135.)



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FOURTH DISTRICT

548 N.E.2d 133, 191 Ill. App. 3d 508, 138 Ill. Dec. 903 1989.IL.1939

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Livingston County; the Hon. Charles E. Glennon, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE GREEN delivered the opinion of the court. KNECHT, P.J., and McCULLOUGH, J., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE GREEN

On May 14, 1988, plaintiff Angela Rinkenberger brought suit in the circuit court of Livingston County against defendant Roger Cook alleging negligence and seeking damages for injuries she received on December 11, 1987, when she was riding in an automobile driven by Cook, and the automobile hit a culvert. On December 9, 1988, plaintiff filed an amended complaint to which defendants Steve Soltis, Jr., and Amell Liquors, Inc. (Amell), were named as additional parties. Count I repeated the charges against Cook. Counts II, III, IV, and V sought recovery under section 6-21(a) of the Liquor Control Act of 1934 (Dramshop Act) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 43, par. 135(a)) based upon gifts or sales of intoxicants by those defendants to Cook, which caused his intoxication and, in turn, caused him to drive the vehicle into the culvert. On February 24, 1989, upon motions of Soltis and Amell, the court dismissed counts II, III, IV, and V and made a finding pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 304(a) (107 Ill. 2d R. 304(a)). Plaintiff has appealed.

The dispute on appeal arises because of section 6 -- 21(a) of the Dramshop Act which, at all times pertinent, stated in part:

"For all causes of action involving persons injured, killed, or incurring property damage after September 12, 1985, in no event shall the judgment or recovery for injury to the person or property of any person exceed $30,000 for each person incurring damages, and recovery under this Act for loss of means of support resulting from the death or injury of any person shall not exceed $40,000. Nothing in this Section bars any person from making separate claims which, in the aggregate, exceed any one limit where such person incurs more than one type of compensable damage, including personal injury, property damage, and loss of means to support." (Emphasis added.) Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 43, par. 135(a).

In counts II and IV, plaintiff sought to recover against Soltis and Amell, respectively, for personal injuries rendering her a quadriplegic, disfiguring her, and causing her pain and suffering. In counts III and V she sought to recover against those defendants, respectively, for damaging her property by causing her to incur medical bills in excess of $100,000 in amount. Thus, plaintiff sought to separate her claim for medical expenses incurred from the other aspects of her injury by classifying the medical expenses incurred as a damage to property so that the $30,000 limitation of section 6 -- 21(a) of the Dramshop Act would apply only as a limit upon each separate type of recovery and not as to her aggregate recovery. Upon her theory, the limit to her aggregate recovery under the Dramshop Act is $60,000.

Based upon the precedent of Thorsen v. City of Chicago (1979), 74 Ill. App. 3d 98, 392 N.E.2d 716, the circuit court held the damages arising from the incursion of medical bills were elements of personal injury, were within the $30,000 limitation, and could not be sought in a separate count. We agree that the medical bills did not constitute a claim for property damage. Thus, counts III and V were properly dismissed. However, counts II and IV stated proper causes of action for injuries to the person. They should not have been dismissed. On remand, plaintiff shall be permitted, if she wishes, to amend those counts to include her medical expenses as an element of her damages arising from personal injuries.

At the times involved in Thorsen, the pertinent portion of section 14 of the then Dramshop Act, predecessor to section 6 -- 21(a) of the present act, merely stated:

The Thorsen court recognized that when one person has been held to be responsible for medical expenses incurred in behalf of another, incurrence of this obligation has been held to be a loss of property. However, that court concluded that "when [as here] the person injured and the person who paid the expenses are one and the same as the person suing, there is but one injury and the plain intent of the section is that there can be but one recovery, not to exceed $15,000, per plaintiff." (Thorsen, 74 Ill. App. 3d at 110, 392 N.E.2d at 725.) There, the appellate court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court, which had limited that plaintiff's recovery against dramshop defendants to $15,000.

Plaintiff relies, in part, upon decisions in Thompson v. Tranberg (1977), 45 Ill. App. 3d 809, 360 N.E.2d 108, Kelly v. Hughes (1962), 33 Ill. App. 2d 314, 179 N.E.2d 273, Shepherd v. Marsaglia (1961), 31 Ill. App. 2d 379, 176 N.E.2d 473, and Fortner v. Norris (1958), 19 Ill. App. 2d 212, 153 N.E.2d 433. In each of those cases, parents of minors or a spouse, liable under the provisions of section 15 of "An Act to revise the law in relation to husband and wife" (the Family Expense Statute) (now Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 40, par. 1015) were allowed to sue under the Dramshop Act for damage to property when they incurred liability for medical expenses of their child or spouse physically injured by an intoxicated person. These cases concern the situation distinguished by the Thorsen court from the circumstances there, and here, where the plaintiff is suing to recover her own medical expenses arising because of personal injury to her.

Plaintiff also relies upon Public Act 84 -- 271 (1985 Ill. Laws 2407 (eff. Sept. 12, 1985)), which amended section 6 -- 21(a) of the Dramshop Act by raising the limitation on recovery for personal injury or property damage inflicted by an intoxicated person from $15,000 to ...


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