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Thread: udge to rule if party hosts liable in crash

  1. #1

    udge to rule if party hosts liable in crash

    LOCAL NEWSJudge to rule if party hosts liable in crash

    Wednesday, June 12, 2002

    In the way Jeremy Bentham and Thomas Paine argued over what the law says versus what it ought to say, two Ottawa lawyers delivered final punches yesterday in a battle that could make history -- placing legal responsibilities on the hosts of house parties.

    Lawyer Barry Laushway began his closing arguments by stating that while a drunken Desmond Desormeaux was "mostly responsible" when he drove head-on into a carload of teens on his way home from a New Year's party on Jan. 1, 1999, the hosts of the party bear some of the blame as well.

    "We are not saying that every host has duty of care over all their guests, all the time," Mr. Laushway argued. "We're saying that these hosts, in this situation, with this guest, had a duty of care they did not fulfil."

    The hosts of the party, Julie Zimmerman and Dwight Courrier, are being sued by ZoÎ Childs, who was left a paraplegic after Mr. Desormeaux crashed into the car she was riding in, killing her 17-year-old boyfriend, Derek DuprÈ.

    Mr. Desormeaux, who already had two previous drunk driving convictions, was found to have three times the legal limit of alcohol in his system at the time of the accident. He was found guilty and sentenced to eight years in prison on top of the 420 days he served awaiting trial. After two years he was remanded to a halfway house in Ottawa.

    Ms. Childs' suit is seeking to prove the party hosts did nothing to prevent him from getting behind the wheel. If the suit is successful, it would be the first time the host of a private party, who did not supply any alcohol, would be found liable for a guest who drove home drunk.

    Mr. Laushway argued in his closing remarks yesterday that because Mr. Courrier and Mr. Desormeaux were friends for 20 years, Mr. Courrier should have recognized his friend was a danger and done more to prevent him from driving home.

    "They were good buddies," said Mr. Laushway. Anyone who knew Mr. Desormeaux's history, "knew he had been previously convicted, knew his drinking habits and knew he drove to the party that night, should have taken steps to make sure he didn't get behind the wheel."

    Eric Williams, the lawyer for the hosts, argued there has never been a case in which a host has been found liable in this situation, and therefore, Justice James Chadwick should dismiss the case.

    Mr. Williams also said since the Liquor Control Board of Ontario sells 80 per cent of its alcohol to individuals for consumption in the home, and does not have any laws regulating consumption in the home, the court should not find the hosts liable.

    "There is no evidence that making social hosts liable will have any deterrent effect in the future to prevent drunk driving," Mr. Williams said.

    Mr. Laushway countered, saying hosts ought to be liable in certain situations and it was now time to make it law.

    Judge Chadwick will deliver a verdict sometime in late August.

  2. #2
    Senior Member shacha's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    bonita springs, fl


    i Think it has been this way in fla. for a long time.

  3. #3

    What a Crock of @#$%!!

    This stuff really really erks me! It seems more and more people wont take responsibility for their own actions, and are some how able to blame others and get away with it! I've been hearing about this subject for a long time around here, it happened with a kid at a party who left drunk and got in an accident too. That's like saying the bride and groom were responsible for my accident, because it was their wedding reception that I left when I rolled my truck, because I was loaded!!! It's total bull@#$% !!!! I drank, I got drunk and I screwed up, they had absolutely nothing to do with it. It was my decision, my choice!!

    I am so sick of people not taking friggin responsibilty, and all the friggin lawyers coming up with more ways for these people to get off, cause of the "Injustice Industry" as I prefer to call it, not the so called "Justice System" Can you imagine the law suits and all the lawyers just rubbing their little hands together with dollar signs in their eyes, if this goes through?

    Just like getting off on murder or rape or anything, "Oh the poor baby was addicted to drugs and needed a fix at the time, or an alcoholic in a black-out, or suffering from cocaine psycosis, or in a crack induced rage. God it all just makes me sick! And I have been in all of the above mentioned states, I am a clean & sober person today, not once did I not take responsibility for my own actions. Nor should anyone be allowed to, all of this pass the buck stuff just makes me so angry, if this ruling goes ahead, and holds innocent people liable for the actions of others, we the world, will truly go to hell in a hand-basket!! I certainly hope that you agree!

  4. #4

    Agreed MG

    I feel the same way

  5. #5
    Super Moderator Sue Pendleton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Wisconsin USA
    I'm with you MG. Too many people trying to pass the buck. I'm glad to hear you're clean and sober. My kid sister was killed by a drunk driver when she was 10. That was 30 years ago and I still miss her. He got off totally because the first cops to arrive discovered something. They knew him! He was a paramedic! No blood test, no breath test, nothing. Over a dozen witnesses had him going 40 to 50 in a 25 mph zone and the kids were between 2 houses a good 50 feet from the street. One girl flew into a tree and he picked my sister up and took her through a garage wall on the front of his car. Her friend spent weeks in the hospital and over a year of physical therapy to get back to "normal". She's now a Mom. :-)

    Why do judges get away with putting these people back on the roads too? It's nuts! Some lawyers really do defend pond scum and know it.

    But I have learned some things. When I tended bar in college I kept the dram shop law in the back of my mind always. In the army I took the keys away from an officer (I was a buck sergeant)at our unit bar and locked them in the CQ box so he could pick them up the next day. I've paid for cabs and I've made sure there are beds available here. Friends do not let ANYONE drive drunk. I wish someone had jumped your ass and tied you to a bar stool that night MG!

  6. #6

    Hey Sue!

    They did try to stop me, the guy I was with at the time took my keys away and drove. Except when he pulled over to take a pee, I jumped into the drivers seat, told him to screw off, it's my truck and I'm driving. Apparently it wasn't long after that I rolled her! I used to do that alot, people would always take my keys and stuff, and apparently I'd just freak on them, fight and everything, get them back and drive. I ended up with 4 impaired charges and probably about 6 or 7 accidents. Pretty bad aye, still to this day, I thank God I never hurt anyone,(physically anyway) except for myself. I would wake up the next day and ask God to please don't let me have hit anyone when I saw that I had driven home again. I was always in a black-out, never remembering driving home. I am so sorry to here of your little sister, I feel like I should apologize, after all it was some dick-head just like me who took her from you and your family. I really am very sorry, that goof should be rotting in jail!

  7. #7
    Super Moderator Sue Pendleton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Wisconsin USA
    MG, you were in the wrong line of work whatever it was. Sounds like you could have been in the WWF and taken down some really big guys! Glad to hear you didn't take anyone with you but sorry you have to deal with what you do now. Too bad we can't live life backwards, eh?

    One of the things I really loved living in Europe was how easy public transportation was to find and cheap too. We could even get a free ride back to our starting point from the big town fests if we stopped at the booth for a hand stamp getting off the street cars. It's kind of ironic. I used to joke that I couldn't drive to a beer fest because I'd never find my car afterwards. Most people don't know it but if you follow any of the streets with the Octoberfest flags on each light post in Munich they will take you back to the train station and major public transit hub. Those Germans really know how to party safely.

    And I never have understood Canada's drinking laws. Kind of like Italy's state monopoly on selling matches and salt. Totally freaky.

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