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Third Party Who Assists Drunken Driver May Be Liable for Accident Caused by Driver
Description Trial court held that a third party who helped a drunk person drink more, and then delivered him to his car to drive home, and encouraged him to drive drunk, could be found to have a legal duty to a passenger in the car of the drunk driver who was killed in an accident caused by the driver.
Topic Torts
Key Words Negligence; Legal Duty; Intoxication
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Grimaldi, a minor, got drunk at work. Fisher drove him to Mulka's house where she participated in his consumption of more alcohol. She then drove Grimaldi back to his car and encouraged him to drive home. Evie Cowart was a passenger in Grimaldi's car when he caused an accident that killed her. Evie's mother sued Grimaldi and Fisher for negligence and recklessness. Fisher moved to strike the counts against her, arguing that she was a third party who had no legal duty to Evie for an accident caused by Grimaldi.
Decision Motion denied. "The Restatement (Second) of Torts provides that a person may be liable to a third person for the tortious conduct of another if he 'knows that the other's conduct constitutes a breach of duty and gives substantial assistance or encouragement to the other to so conduct himself....' That is exactly which is contained in the allegation of the plaintiff in the present case." Fisher was not a bystander, she owes a legal duty to the plaintiff.
Citation Coward v. Grimaldi, 746 A.2d 833 (Super. Ct., Conn., 2000)

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