The Maryland Court of Appeals, the highest court in the state, has ruled that parents who knowingly let underage teens drink in their home are liable for damages if a teen injures someone or suffers injuries while under the influence. Although the ruling does not have a direct effect on cases of underage DUI in Los Angeles, justices in state courts do take note of the decisions of their peers in other states.
The ruling by Maryland’s Court came in two cases. One involved Manal Kiriakos, who had been out walking her dogs when she was hit by a car driven by 18-year-old Shetmiyah Robinson. He had been drinking vodka and orange juice at a co-worker’s home. Although the homeowner, Brandon Phillips, knew that Robinson was underage and expressed concern about Robinson’s sobriety, he let the teen drive himself home. When Robinson hit Kiriakos, she suffered life-threatening injuries and is still in pain. So Robinson sued Phillips for serving the teen alcohol.
The other case concerned the death of 17-year-old Steven Dankos, who got drunk at a friend’s “party house” and climbed into the back of a pickup truck driven by a 22-year-old (also under the influence). Dankos’ mother filed suit against Linda Stapf, the mother of her son’s friend, who allegedly allowed underage drinking at her home most weekends. The suit claimed that if Dankos hadn’t been drinking at Stapf’s house and subsequently under the influence, he would not have ridden in the back of the truck.
The Court of Appeals ruled that both civil lawsuits could proceed. According to the Baltimore Sun, the appeals judge in their decision referred to the Maryland law that makes it a criminal offense for adults to “knowingly and willingly” allowing underage drinking to go on in their homes. The justices determined that similar standards should apply when it comes to filing civil suits.
Please call the experienced Los Angeles DUI lawyers at the Kraut Law Group for substantial and skilled assistance with your case and a free, private consultation.