Washington Legal Roundup – Division I
Back in May of 1998, a big group of kids from Lake Washington High School arranged to have a kegger at Kachess State Park. The party was arranged by and for high school seniors. Glen Anderson, who was then a junior, showed up at the party. Another kid at the party hit Mr. Anderson in the forehead with a heavy glass beer mug. He suffered a head injury, went into a coma and died 4 years later after having been in a persistent vegetative state during that period.
Mr. Anderson’s mom, Hazel Cameron, sued a bunch of people from the party as well as a beer distributing company and the adults that got the beer for the party. The defendants (other than the person that actually assaulted Mr. Anderson and caused his death) moved for summary judgment, which was granted.
Ms. Cameron had argued that the court should allow the jury to determine whether it was foreseeable that a group of teenagers that were provided with an unlimited supply of alcohol in a remote location without supervision would engage in violent behavior.
The Court of Appeals determined that the common law required Ms. Cameron to show that the entities providing the alcohol had reason to know that the assailants had violent tendencies under Christen v. Lee, 113 Wn.2d 479, 780 P.2d 1307 (1989). Query whether the Court of Appeals has read Lord of the Flies recently.
Ms. Cameron also argued that the statutes prohibiting providing alcohol to minors was designed to protect minors from the consequences of alcohol-related injury.
The Court of Appeals said no to this argument too, holding that statutes prohibiting sale of alcohol to minors were only designed to protect minors from negligent acts arising out of use of alcohol by minors. In so doing, the Court distinguished Schooley v. Pinch’s Deli Market, Inc., 134 Wn.2d 468, 951 P.2d 749 (1998).
Sorry mom. While illegal, there are apparently no civil remedies available to parents whose kids are assaulted after adults have provided lots of alcohol to a large group of teenage boys.
Note to Supreme Court: Is this really the result you intended when you wrote Schooley? You don’t really have to be a child psychologist to know what drunk teenage boys (and girls, for that matter) are capable of doing without supervision, do you?