A passenger in a car that crashed into a light pole before bursting in flames is suing Illinois’ Hollywood Casino Joliet. The driver was served too much alcohol at the venue before the May 7, 2021 accident, the court action claims.
The driver, Matthew Sellers, 23, of Joliet, died from his injuries in the collision. His body was burned beyond recognition, Patch reported. The passenger, who survived the accident, was identified in court papers as Robert Lee.
Lee is seeking over $50,000 from the casino. His suit claims Sellers was intoxicated and could not properly drive the car.
The lawsuit was filed last week in Joliet’s Will County Courthouse. Lee is represented by Shuman Legal of Chicago. It is likely that the casino will file a response to the lawsuit. Eventually, the court action could go to trial.
The accident took place about 1.6 miles from the gaming property. It was on Route 6.
Dram Shop Act
The lawsuit relies on Illinois’ Dram Shop Act, also known as the Liquor Control Act. It basically holds the vendor of alcohol could be legally liable for later damages or injuries caused by a person who drunk the alcohol.
The casino is owned by Penn National Gaming. Casino.org reached out to the company for a response. No immediate answer was provided.
The accident comes a decade after a 2010 study published in the Journal of Health Economics, which stated that “There is a strong link between the presence of a casino in a county and the number of alcohol-related fatal traffic accidents.”
Prior Fatal DUIs
Nationwide, there have been a number of casino-linked driving while intoxicated accidents.
In 2017, the Mohegan Tribe was sued by a woman who said a car accident was caused by a patron who drank at the Mohegan Sun before a two-car collision.
In the lawsuit by Andrea Bettencourt, who was in the other car, it was claimed the casino visitor, Mose L. Jones Jr., was served too many drinks at the Uncasville, Connecticut tribal venue before the accident, Indianz.com, a Native American news site, reported.
Jones died in the collision. He allegedly was drinking nonstop for three to four hours, Bettencourt’s attorney told the Connecticut Law Journal.
In November 2020, a 43-year-old woman died from her injuries after the SUV she was in crashed into a wall at the Paris Hotel & Casino parking garage located on the Las Vegas Strip. In total, three passengers in the SUV required treatment at Sunrise Hospital for injuries from the crash.
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police later arrested the driver of the SUV for allegedly driving under the influence, KLAS, a local TV station, reported. He was identified as Scott Thomas, 39, of Montclair, California, KTNV, another Las Vegas TV station, said. It was unclear how the charge was adjudicated in court.
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