The parents of a California teen who died during a sleepover recently had their wrongful death case dismissed by an appeals court. According to court documents, 17-year-old Shelby Allen had a sleepover at the house of a 16-year-old friend named Kayli Liberman. After Kayli’s parents went to bed, Shelby reportedly took a bottle of vodka from the family’s home bar and had 15 shots.
“The next morning, Kayli told her father they had been drinking and Shelby had been sick,” court documents state. “The father went to work without checking on Shelby because he had been told Shelby was okay and he did not want to invade the space of a teenage female behind a closed bathroom door.”
Another friend checked on Shelby that morning and discovered that she wasn’t breathing. That friend had Kayli’s sister, who called their father at work.
The father came home, discovered Shelby unconscious and administered CPR while calling emergency crews. No one was able to revive Shelby, and she was pronounced dead with a blood alcohol level of 0.339 percent.
Shelby’s parents sued the Libermans, who claimed to have immunity under California’s social host law. California’s social host law provides “no social host who furnishes alcoholic beverages to any person may be held legally accountable for damages suffered by that person … resulting from the consumption of those beverages.”
After Shelby’s death, an exception to immunity was added for adults who knowingly provide alcohol to minors. The court found that the exception did not retroactively apply to the Liberman’s case and that there was no evidence that the Libermans knowing furbished alcohol to Shelby.
“Shelby died of acute ethanol intoxication,” the court wrote. “Applying the law in effect at the time of Shelby’s death, although the Libermans could have done more to protect, supervise or aid Shelby, they are not liable for furnishing alcohol, making alcohol accessible, or failing to supervise Shelby.”
The court also noted that Kayli, as a minor, did not have any special legal duties that would create liability for her friend’s death.