JERSEYVILLE — An Eldred tavern should pay more than a half million dollars to the family of a teenager who died in alcohol-related accident, a Jersey County jury has determined.
Because of judgment limitations under Illinois’ Dramshop Act, however, the award would be closer to $100,000.
Thirsty’s Tavern was found responsible after a two-day civil trial in the September 2007 death of Jerica Klocke, 19, of Batchtown. Klocke died in a motorcycle accident near Reddish Road and Dunham Road in Jersey County. She was a passenger on a motorcycle driven by Donald Adcock, 24, of Carrollton, who also died in the crash.
A summary read by Circuit Judge Eric Pistorious said Klocke’s family brought the claim contending Adcock consumed alcohol at Thirsty’s Tavern and Bawana’s Nutwood Tavern and became intoxicated, which was one of the causes of Klocke’s death.
Thirsty’s Tavern was owned by Adcock and his father, Roger. Bawana’s Nutwood Tavern was owned by Stephen Wilson.
The Klocke family’s attorney, Mike Glisson of Alton, said a friend arranged for Klocke to ride on a motorcycle driven by Adcock, who witnesses did not appear intoxicated, but had a blood alcohol level of 0.15 at the time of his death. The legal limit in Illinois is 0.08.
Klocke’s toxicological report revealed no alcohol.
Adcock lost control of his motorcycle and left a 177-foot skidmark as he approached Reddish and Dunham roads.
Forensic toxicologist Chris Long testified that while witnesses said Adcock did not appear impaired, he would have been with such a high blood-alcohol level. His depth perception, balance and reasoning would have been affected, Long said.
Klocke was 19 and hoped to become a college graduate and mother, Glisson said. She was working as a medical receptionist for Reese Family Chiropractic in Jacksonville and was a student at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville.
The jury awarded $500,000 for loss of relationship and $49,954.11 for medical and funeral bills. It did not find against Bawana’s.
But awards are limited under the state Dramshop Act, although the jury was not made aware of that, Glisson said. The liability limit for causes involving someone injured or killed by a drunken driver is $58,625.33 and for those claiming loss of means of support or loss of society resulting from the death or injury of a person, the judgment or recovery limit is $71,686.18.
“Judge Pistorious will review the current limits when he enters the verdict into record and adjust the amount accordingly,” Glisson said. “So the actual award will be a little over $100,000.”
Thirsty’s attorney, Michael Constance of Belleville, did not return phone messages Friday.
Glisson said he did not speak to the jurors after the verdict to see why they did not rule against Bawana’s, but figured it was because of the amount of time spent at one tavern over the other.
“Witness testimony was that Don Adcock spent more time at Thirsty’s, between two to three hours, where witnesses said he was at Bawana’s between 30 minutes to an hour,” Glisson said. “So they may have decided that he was impaired by the time he got to Bawana’s so that may have had something to do with it.”
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