Hansen v. Friend

118 Wash. 2d 476, 824 P.2d 483 (1992)



A court will grant summary judgment only when there is no genuine issue as to any material fact, and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. The court must consider all facts submitted and all reasonable inferences from the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. The motion will be granted only if reasonable persons could reach only one conclusion from all of the evidence. 


After the decedent, who was a minor, drowned in an alcohol-related incident, petitioner mother filed a wrongful death suit against the respondent social hosts for serving liquor to the minor. The trial court granted summary judgment for the social hosts, and the appellate court affirmed that judgment. The decedent's mother sought review. The court reversed the judgment.


Did the trial court err in granting sumamry judgment?




Pursuant to Wash. Rev. Code § 66.44.270(1), it was unlawful for anyone, including the social hosts, to furnish liquor to the minor. Because the statute met the four-part test for adoption as a reasonable person's standard of conduct, the social hosts owed a duty to exercise ordinary care not to furnish liquor to the minor. Accordingly, a cause of action was maintainable against the social hosts because their alleged breach of this duty was the proximate cause of his death. However, it remained a question for the trier of fact whether the harm sustained by the decedent was foreseeable. Regardless of the statute, neither social host was entitled to summary judgment.

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