A very interesting torts case has settled in Lake Forest, Illinois where George Baldwin, 22, has been given a $2.5 million settlement after he went to a party at the house of Lauralee Pfeifer, who had two high school friends of Baldwin. Baldwin and a friend than drank beer in their girl’s bedroom. He was paralyzed when he and a drunk friend (who was driving) crashed their car. It is a very rare case of a homeowner being successfully sued by someone other than a a third party victim. He is also suing his former friend who drove the car.
In 2006, Baldwin was 19 and his friend William Klairmont, was 18 . What is most notable is that Pfeifer did not buy the alcohol for the teens or know they were drinking in her home. Yet, Baldwin insists that she should have been more closely monitored his drinking and that of his friend.
He is also suing his former friend Klairmont.
Dram shop cases are ordinarily brought against bars by third parties injured by “over-served” customers. Many states effectively bar the drunks themselves from such lawsuits.
The use of such theories of vicarious liability against homeowners is quite rare. I have never seen a case like this one where a homeowner is held liable without any knowledge or role in the drinking. There is also Baldwin’s own misconduct. He was 19 years old at the time and thus legally an adult. I am confused by the decision to settle the case given his adult status.
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