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Pittsburgh Criminal Lawyer > > Homicide > Victim’s parents not responsible for son’s death in underage DUI case

Victim’s parents not responsible for son’s death in underage DUI case

A judge has ruled that the parents of a Fayette County teen who was killed in an underage drunk driving accident at the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort will not be held responsible for their son’s death. The lawsuit alleged that the parents were liable because they failed to supervise their son, who drank, got drunk, and then drove and rode with other teens before getting into an accident. President Judge John F. Wagner, Jr. has decided otherwise. The victim died five days after the accident, which occurred on 10 September 2011. The police report shows that the driver, who was seventeen at the time of the accident, had a BAC (blood alcohol content) of .136%. The legal limit for adults in Pennsylvania is .08% and teen drivers are considered drunk at .02%. The parents of the victims filed a lawsuit against the driver and his family, the man who owns Nemacolin, and Nemacolin Woodlands Inc. and Nemacolin Inc. The owner of Nemacolin, who also founded 84 Lumber, previously paid the victim’s family $200,000 in May of 2014 to settle their claims against him out of court; however, the owner’s resort and the driver in question remained defendants in the lawsuit. During proceedings, lawyers for Nemacolin presented a cross-claim against the victim’s parents, placing the blame on them. Nemacolin’s lawyers alleged that the victim’s parents knew their son was drinking, drove while drunk, and rode in a vehicle with others who were drinking, but that they failed to stop their son from these actions. In response to the cross-claim, Judge Wagner said that the victim’s parents “did not proximately cause the fatal injury” that their son sustained. He continued, saying that “The fatal injuries to the child…were the result of a vehicle accident, not the…consumption of alcohol or the lack of supervision…His attendance at the party without adult supervision did not cause his death…” The judge also said that the victim’s parents’ failure to not let him drive was not the cause of his death either. Judge Wagner told the court that the victim’s parents were not at the party, so they would have no way of knowing if he was drinking that evening. Interestingly, Judge Wagner also told the court that even if the victim’s parents had suspected their son might be drinking that evening, Nemacolin Woodlands Inc. failed to prove that it had an “opportunity to prevent his drinking at [that] time.” The party where the teens allegedly got drunk was hosted by Nemacolin’s owner’s daughter. After the accident, the driver was charged as a juvenile for vehicular homicide, DUI homicide, vehicular aggravated assault, and DUI. Two years ago, the driver was forced to spend forty-five days in an alcohol abuse treatment facility and to give at least twelve presentations in front of other teens to warn them of the dangers of drinking and driving. Source: TribLive.com, “Parents aren’t liable for son’s death in DUI wreck at Nemacolin” 14 July 2014

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