A wrongful death lawsuit involving an underage party gone wrong continues to make its way through the court system.
The lawsuit was the subject of a Supreme Court of California ruling earlier this spring which created liability for certain social hosts who serve underage minors.
House Party Gone Wrong
This case involves Jessica Manosa, a minor who decided to throw a party at a vacant Diamond Bar rental home that her parents owned in 2007. The party was held without her parents’ permission and publicized primarily through word-of-mouth and text.
About 50 people showed up to the party, which started around 9 p.m. on April 27, 2007. Uninvited guests were charged between $3 and $5 admission, which was eventually used to buy more alcohol.
Sometime before midnight, Manosa’s friend Andrew Ennabe arrived to the party. A few minutes later, another underage boy named Thomas Garcia arrived with his friends. They were uninvited to the party, so they paid about $20 to enter.
Garcia was highly intoxicated when he entered the party, and became rowdy and obnoxious. His behavior eventually led him to be kicked out of the party.
According to court documents:
“Garcia was eventually asked to leave for his inappropriate behavior. Ennabe and some other guests escorted Garcia and his friends off the premises and ultimately to their car. One of Garcia’s friends spit on Ennabe, prompting Ennabe to chase him into the street. Garcia, who by this time was driving away, ran over Ennabe, severely injuring him. Ennabe later died from his injuries.”
Lawsuits Follow Deadly House Party
Jessica Manosa and her parents were sued by Ennabe’s parents, Faiez and Christina Ennabe. Their case was dismissed by a trial court and an appeals court, because of a California law that grants immunity for social hosts who serve alcohol to patrons.
The Supreme Court ruled earlier this spring that charging guests a cover results a loss in immunity because of an exception that creates liability for individuals who sell alcohol. The court ruled that a cover charge was tantamount to a sale, and therefore Jessica Manosa and her parents could be held liable for Andrew Ennabe’s death.
This ruling means that many minors – in particular college students who routinely charge cover for similar parties – could be subject to liability based on the actions of their intoxicated guests.
“We should err on the side of permitting liability, for the possibility of liability may provide a strong deterrent against the provision of alcohol to minors, especially those who are already obviously intoxicated,” Justice Kathryn Mickle Werdegar wrote for the court. “A social host can retain her immunity by simply refraining from charging any of her invited guests.”
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