Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Allen v. Liberman (Cal. Ct. App. - June 18, 2014)

Here are the facts as they appear in the introduction to Justice Mauro's opinion, which affirms the grant of summary judgment to the defendant:

"This case involves the application of California’s social host immunity law. Shelby Allen was 17 years old when she went for a sleepover at the home of her 16-year-old friend Kayli Liberman. After Kayli’s parents went to bed, Shelby obtained vodka from the Libermans’ bar, consumed 15 shots, began vomiting and passed out. Kayli propped Shelby’s head against the toilet, took Shelby’s cell phone, closed the bathroom door and went to bed.  [Shelby then died of acute alcohol poisoning.]"

Here are the more complete details that appear in the subsequent statement of facts:

"On the evening of December 19, 2008, Wallace and Debby Liberman were entertaining in their game room, which contained a fully stocked bar. Kayli Liberman arrived home from a party and, in the presence of her parents, consumed alcohol with her older sister Tori. Shelby Allen and Alyssa Alexander arrived at the Liberman home around 12:30 a.m. after Debby gave permission for them to spend the night there. The Liberman family continued drinking alcoholic beverages, but Shelby and Alyssa did not consume alcohol in the presence of Kayli’s parents. Between 12:30 a.m. and 1:00 a.m., Wallace and Debby went to bed. Wallace suspected that the minors wanted to drink alcohol and cautioned them that although his daughters had permission to do so in their home, he did not have the right to give such permission to Alyssa and Shelby, who should talk to their own parents about the subject."

Those additional details make the defendants appear far more morally -- even if not legally -- culpable, no?