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Illinois State Appellate Court: DuPage Strip Club Must Remain as Co-Defendant in Wrongful Death Case

A DuPage County strip club has lost its bid to be excluded from a wrongful death lawsuit stemming from a deadly drunk driving accident. The State Appellate Court ruled last Wednesday that the owners of the West Chicago area Diamond’s Strip Club must remain as co-defendants in a wrongful death suit filed against John Homatas. Homatas, a 26 year-old Wayne resident, is currently serving a 12-year sentence following a jury trial in which he was convicted of reckless homicide and aggravated drunken driving. Homatas plead not guilty to those crimes in June 2007 following a head-on collision that killed two adults and one unborn child. The car accident occurred on January 4, 2006, on Illinois Highway 25 between Kenyon Rd. and U.S. Highway 20. After leaving the club, Homatas steered his northbound Jeep across the center line and struck a Chevy Tahoe driven by 27 year-old April Simmons of Yorkville, IL, killing her and her unborn child. John Chiarello, the passenger in Homatas’s car, was also killed in the collision.

The owners of Diamonds claimed that they had no part in the tragic DUI car accident because the strip club does not serve alcohol. The Appellate Court rejected this contention finding that the strip club owed a duty to the deceased plaintiffs when it ejected Homatas from the club and placed him in his vehicle knowing he was intoxicated. While the club does not serve alcohol, it does allow patrons to bring alcoholic beverages onto the premises for personal consumption. The wrongful death lawsuit claims that Diamonds employees started Homatas’s car and watched him drive away after ejecting him from the bar for vomiting in the bathroom. Police reports indicate that Homatas had alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine in his system at the time of the accident. Diamonds owner Ari Pomerantz has vowed to continue to fight the suit.

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