Sunday, June 16, 2019
CAROLINE PALADINO, ET AL. VS. AULETTO ENTERPRISES, INC., ETC. (L-2574-17, CAMDEN COUNTY AND STATEWIDE) (A-0232-18T1)
CAROLINE PALADINO, ET AL. VS. AULETTO ENTERPRISES, INC., ETC. (L-2574-17, CAMDEN COUNTY AND STATEWIDE) (A-0232-18T1) In this wrongful death case, the defendant liquor store sold vodka and beer to the nineteen-year-old decedent without checking his identification. Decedent and a group of his friends – all of whom were likewise young adults under the legal drinking age of twenty-one – then converged at the home of one of the youths. They drank the purchased alcohol in the young host's bedroom. Decedent then left the house as a passenger in the car of one of the inebriated youths. He died when the driver lost control of the car and it flipped over. The decedent's estate sued the car driver and its owners for negligence and the liquor store under the Dram Shop Act. The liquor store pled a third-party complaint against the young man who had hosted the gathering and his parents. The trial court granted them summary judgment, finding they had not violated any established legal duty. Under the circumstances presented, the parents had no statutory or common law duty to prevent their adult son from allowing his adult underage friends to drink alcohol in their home without their proven knowledge or consent. Nor did the son who hosted the gathering have a duty of care under current law.