Second chance for woman injured at Weiner Circle
The Illinois Appellate Court recently resurrected a lawsuit against one of Chicago’s most famous late night stops – The Weiner Circle[pictured above]. Back in 2011, Leah Libolt was visiting Chicago. She and friend went out to dinner and then hit a few bars on the north side. And about at about 2 am, they found themselves at Weiner Circle.
Little background here…. Weiner Circle, by day, is a little hot dog stand on North Clark. But Weiner Circle stays open until 5 am. So all the millenials spilling out of the Lincoln Park bars head over for some grub to soak up the booze.
Years ago, according to interviews anyway, one of the owners grew tired of trying to communicate with an overserved customer so he began to verbally abuse him. A genre was born. Now when the bars close, people head over to Weiner Circle to “good naturedly” berate the people working there. And, the people working there give as good as they get. Lots of insults tossed back and forth, along with lots of profanity. Not for the faint of heart. It gets a little crazy, as the attached fan link demonstrates[the fan link is NOT associated with Weiner Circle].
Back to Ms. Libolt. When she arrived at Weiner Circle it was crowded, loud and rowdy. She waited in line to order and noticed an unidentified guy[“mystery man”] walking in and out of the restaurant. Libolt testified that the verbal sparring was mostly good-natured, but interactions between Weiner staff and mystery man were becoming aggressive. Mystery Man was repeatedly told to leave and one of the workers waved a large spoon at him. Mystery man left but then came back. And he was again loudly berated by other patrons and again told to leave. Shortly thereafter mystery man bumped into Libolt and knocked her down, causing serious injuries to her left arm. It is not entirely clear how mystery man ended upon bumping into Libolt. One of her friends admitted to pushing him when mystery man reached over him at the counter. [Mystery man was never identified].
Libolt sued Weiner Circle, claiming that it allowed the quarrelsome mystery man to remain in the restaurant, failed to control and/or remove him; encouraged employees to provoke patrons and was otherwise negligent. Weiner Circle filed a motion to have the suit tossed and the trial judge did just that. Libolt appealed.
The First District Appellate Court however, thought that the lawsuit should move forward. In a thoughful opinion, the court held that as Weiner Circle intentionally creates and knowingly maintains a violatile environment[with lots of drunk people yelling and being yelled at] the risk of injury is unreasonably high – and Weiner Circle has a duty to protect its patrons. To be clear, the opinion didn’t say all restaurants have that duty – only those that create and permit conditions like that in Weiner Circle late on weekend nights.
The opinion didn’t identify who represented Libolt, but kudos to them for sticking with the case.