Here in California, we all know that serving alcohol to minors is dangerous - both because of the possibility for physical harm to the minor, and for the serious legal penalties that can come from serving an underage person. Both of these negative outcomes came into play in a case from another state.
A man was recently sued in a Hawaii court after a 15-year-old girl lost her life at a party he was hosting. The 25-year-old man apparently threw a party at which alcoholic beverages were served. The man allegedly invited several underage girls to the party. During the party, he served hard alcohol to the girls and took the lead in playing a number of drinking games.
According to a subsequent lawsuit, the 15-year-old got sick and fell unconscious after drinking a large amount of hard liquor. The 25-year-old man did not attempt to help her. Nor, it seems, did his mother, who also lived at the residence.
The next morning, the man helped the girl's friends to load her unconscious body into a car, then instructed the girl's friends to leave. According to medical professionals, the girl was likely already dead at this point.
The girl's family sued for wrongful death, stating that the man had violated his responsibilities as they relate to a dangerous premises. The lawsuit seeks compensation for the wrongful death, as well as the emotional distress and the loss of companionship that the family has suffered after the death of the child.
Premises liability is the legal concept that a person is responsible for what goes on inside a property that he or she controls. Often, premises liability refers to dangerous premises with problems like broken stairways and broken floor tiles. In this case, however, the man allegedly created the dangerous condition himself by serving alcohol to a minor.
Source: Courthouse News Service, "Party Host Must Answer for Drunken Teen's Death" Jeff D. Gorman, Dec. 27, 2013