February 14, 2011 by Canadian Underwriter
The death of a Manitoba teen on her way home from a friend’s birthday party is bringing the issue of host liability back to the courts.
A 15-year-old girl, Tamara Aller, died on her way home from a friend’s 18th birthday party on Feb. 14, 2009. The party was held at the house of the friend’s parents, Mary-Anne and Allan Kostur, in Dauphin, Manitoba.
Allan Kostur dropped Aller off about two blocks from her home after the party. She allegedly was not wearing a coat and the temperature that evening dipped to minus-37 degrees Celsius, according to a report by CTV.ca.
Aller’s mother is suing the Kostur family for $15,500 for funeral expenses, as well as other damages, according to CTV.ca. Citing a statement of claim, CTV reported Aller’s mother says the family knowingly over-served alcohol to a minor and failed to see to it that Tamara got home safely.
None of the allegations have been proven in a court.
Bob Sokalski, a lawyer, told CTV.ca this case of host liability differs from the 2006 Supreme Court case, Childs v. Desormeaux.
In Childs, a woman hit by a drunk driver and rendered a paraplegic sued the driver and the hosts of the New Year’s Eve party she had attended just prior to the accident. The Supreme Court threw out the case.
In its ruling, the Supreme Court said: “A social host at a party where alcohol is served is not under a duty of care to members of the public who may be injured by a guest’s actions, unless the host’s conduct implicates him or her in the creation or exacerbation of the risk. Short of active implication, a host is entitled to respect the autonomy of a guest.”
Sokalski suggested to CTV.ca the Aller case may turn on whether the court finds Allan Kostur created the risk that led to Tamara’s death by driving her home and failing to see she made it into her house safely.
“The case would have less likelihood of success had the parties not undertaken to drive the individual home in the cold weather, as that was an additional element of risk,” Sokalski said to CTV.
A court date has yet to be set.