In the News: Teen Party Throwers Face Change in Law

Cartwright - February 19, 2014 - Blog, In the News
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In The News: The Cartwright Law Firm has long argued that parents whose teenage children host parties in their homes – with or without their approval – should be held liable for harms caused by actions arising from and to the people attending those parties, especially where alcohol or drugs are the primary cause of those harms. A recent case out of Diamond Bar, California, involving an under-age teen who threw a party without her parent’s knowledge that subsequently resulted in the death of a 19-year-old man, may soon be decided by the California Supreme Court. Their ruling will determine whether young people, who host underage drinking parties, and charge attendee’s money to enter, are liable if an intoxicated guest hurts themselves or others. The ruling could create a significant opening in the legal shield that has long protected people hosting parties in California from alcohol-related lawsuits.

At issue is whether parents who claim no knowledge that a party was occurring at their house are vicariously liable because their teen child throws a party while they are not home. Earlier law held social hosts who serve alcohol to intoxicated guests liable for their harmful behavior. The Legislature created immunity for social hosts but later made an exception for individuals, licensed or not, who sell alcohol at parties.

A decision for the decedent’s parents could have the desired prohibitive effect, considering the prevalence of teenage parties with cover charges. News of such gatherings often spread fast on social media and by text, and underage drinking parties, often attracting more than the originally intended guests, frequently spin out of control. Lives are often lost, and settlements of lawsuits involving deaths or severe injuries can run into the millions of dollars. A ruling in the case is expected in early March.

The Cartwright Law Firm has handled many cases involving injuries and death arising out of teenaged parties where drugs and alcohol were the primary factors leading to the injuries. But too often, current law has barred grieving parents from obtaining justice for the loss or injury of their child. We urge the California Supreme Court to eliminate this loophole that protects poor parenting over the lives and safety of young people. Call The Cartwright Law Firm today to talk about your own case.

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