SW Legal studies in Business

Organizers of Party Where Alcohol Served to Minors Not Liable for Negligence

Appeals court upheld dismissal of a suit brought by the mother of a student who died from a criminal assault when he was ejected from a beer party for high school students. While the assailant may be liable, the party organizers violated no duty of care to the student who crashed the party.

Topic Torts
Key Words

Negligence; Third Parties; Alcohol; Duty

C A S E   S U M M A R Y

A group of high school students in Seattle planned a keg party to celebrate graduation. Expecting about 100 participants, one of the students bought six kegs (about one gallon of beer per person) from a cousin who was a beer distributor. One person who showed up at the party was Glen Anderson. Some of the seniors confronted him as he was a junior, so was not invited to the party. One of the seniors, Murray, hit Anderson in the forehead with a beer mug. The wound appeared to be minor and was stitched up in an emergency room. Four months later, Anderson went into a coma, was in a vegetative state for four years, and died. The cause of death was determined to be the wound suffered at the keg party, and the death was ruled a homicide. Anderson’s mother then sued Murray and other party organizers and the beer company. She contended that they should be held jointly and severally liable for the death. The trial court dismissed the suit with respect to the students who organized the party and confronted Anderson but did not strike him. Anderson’s mother appealed.


Affirmed. The students who did not hit Anderson were not liable for negligence. The students did not foresee the possibility of a criminal assault by Murray. There was nothing in his background to give the students warning that he might engage in such an assault. Even though the keg party violated the law regarding alcohol purchase and consumption by minors, the statute was not intended to protect against an event such as this one. The students who did not commit the assault owed no duty of care to Anderson.


Cameron v. Murray, ---P.3d--- (2009 WL 2488433, Ct. App., Wash., 2009)

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