A wrongful death lawsuit involving a Diamond Bar house party is moving through the California court system. The party was thrown by 20-year-old Jessica Manosa and resulted in the death of one of her guests. The lawsuit was initially dismissed by a trial court because of a state law giving party hosts immunity for alcohol-related legal liability.
The California Supreme Court recently held that Manosa fell under an exception to social host immunity found in the California Business and Professions Code.
Charging a Cover Creates Legal Liability for Social Hosts
Jessica Manosa decided to hold a party on the evening of April 27, 2007, at a vacant rental home owned by her parents. Her parents were unaware of the party, which was hosted by the 20-year-old girl and primarily for underage guests.
Between 40 and 60 people arrived at the party. The party, which was advertised through word-of-mouth and text, was free for Manosa’s guests but uninvited partygoers were charged between $3 and $5 for entry.
Manosa initially provided $60 for the purchase of alcohol, cups, and mixers. The funds from the cover charge were used to replenish the supply of alcohol during the party.
One of the guests was Thomas Garcia, who was uninvited and paid $20 cover for him and his friends. Another guest was Andrew Ennabe, who was one of Manosa’s friends.
Garcia was highly intoxicated when he arrived and eventually was escorted out by Ennabe and several others. One of Garcia’s friends spit on Ennabe, causing him to give chase down the street. By this time Garcia was already in his car and fatally struck Ennabe.
Ennabe’s parents sued, among others, Jessica Manosa and her parents. Although the trial court and the appeals court held that Jessica had social host immunity, the state Supreme Court disagreed. The justices held that because Manosa had charged a cover for her party, she had “sold” alcohol to obviously intoxicated minors and therefore not entitled to civil immunity.
The appeals court subsequently reversed its judgment and then remanded the case to the trial court for further proceedings.