Bill Keville and his team have obtained another victory for the defense by obtaining a summary judgment in an emotionally charged wrongful death/social host case in Norfolk Superior Court. The case involved the death of a 17 year old high school student who drowned after becoming intoxicated. Plaintiff alleged that the intoxication occurred after the decedent had been transported by our client to a party allegedly hosted by him. Her body was found two days later in a nearby swamp. The plaintiff raised the following nine primarily negligence-based claims against our client: wrongful death – negligence; wrongful death - willful, wanton and reckless acts; conscious pain and suffering; premises liability; civil conspiracy; loss of chance of survival; reckless infliction of emotional distress and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
While there were a number of facts at issue, Bill was able to convince the court that there were no material facts in dispute on the critical dispositive issues. Bill was able to dissect the evidence from over 50 depositions to demonstrate that his client did not supply alcohol to the decedent or effectively control the alcohol at the party site. Coupling the testimonial facts with the reluctance of the Supreme Judicial Court to impose liability where an intoxicated person injures herself, Bill’s oral argument led the court to conclude that social host liability did not attach to our client.
This victory resulted from a true (and typical) Melick & Porter team effort. Chris George played an instrumental role in the discovery of the critical facts at deposition while Andre Sansoucy provided the invaluable research and drafting for the motion and brief. This effort follows on the heels of our firm’s 2012 victory before the SJC in the Juliano liquor liability case.