A Holiday Warning from PA’s Courts – Be Wary of Parties Hosted by Family Members.

In the case of Koller v. Rose, et al., PICS Case No. 08-2003, Beaver County Court of Common Pleas, defendant Neeley leased her basement to her nephew, a young man under 21, who then threw a party for his friends (also under 21). Shockingly, alcohol was served at this under 21 party. Neeley, for unknown reasons, decided to attend this under 21 soiree. She therefore witnessed the underage drinking first-hand.

Unfortunately, on the way home from the party, one of the under 21 party-goers, defendant Rose, who had consumed alcohol at the party, got into an automobile accident with the plaintiff. The plaintiff sued Rose, the nephew and Aunt Neeley. Aunt Neeley moved for summary judgment arguing that the plaintiff could not make out a prima facie case of negligence.

The trial court disagreed. It held that there was a question of fact as to whether Aunt Neeley, as a social host, knew that minors were drinking to excess at her basement party. The trial now beckons.