Party Host Must Answer for Drunken Teen's Death
(CN) - A Hawaii man must face a wrongful death lawsuit after a 15-year-old girl died of alcohol poisoning at his house party, the state's highest court ruled.
Makamae Ah Mook Sang attended a party in July 2009 at the home of 25-year-old Michael Clark.
According to a lawsuit filed by her parents, Clark invited 15-year-old Makamae and several other girls under the age of 21 to the party. He served them alcohol and led them in drinking games.
Makamae drank a large amount of hard liquor, got sick and became unconscious.
Her parents said Clark and his mother Denise, who lived at the property and was present, did not help the girl.
Instead, the suit alleges, Michael helped to load Makamae's unconscious body into her friend's car the next morning and told the friend to leave. Medical personnel allegedly said that Makamae was likely already dead by that time.
The Ah Mook Sangs sued the Clarks and Eden Pacific Properties for wrongful death, emotional distress and loss of consortium.
Though the Clarks initially won dismissal for failure to state a claim, the Hawaii Supreme Court reversed this past fall.
"We hold that a social host in the circumstances presented in this case owes a duty of care to a minor when the host has placed the minor in a position of peril and does not act to prevent foreseeable harm to the minor that may thereby result, and when the host does not act to aid the minor in the event that harm has occurred," Justice Paula Nakayama wrote for the court.
"The Clarks were in complete control of the property, the party and the supply and provision of alcohol," Nakayama added. "Accordingly, should they decide to take the risk in choosing to violate the law in serving alcohol to minors, it seems fair that they should bear the burden of exercising care for the safety of those minors while on the property and the consequence of liability for breach of that duty."
KITV in Hawaii reported that Clark was sentenced to a year in prison for this incident and for a drunken struggle with police in 2007. He was also fined $10,000, placed on probation for five years and ordered to perform 200 hours of community service.