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Court of Appeals judges hold family not accountable for minor drinking in the basement

The Estate of Carl Stamm sued Robert King, Leanne King and their son Erik King after Stamm died in a motorcycle collision.  A minor, Stamm had been drinking in the Kings' basement with their son, Erik, before he attempted to avoid being pulled over by police and died when his cycle struck a police car.  His family attempted to hold the Kings accountable for their actions in allowing Carl to become intoxicated in their basement.

The Stamm family could not prove that Erik was lying in his claim that he did not see Carl drink any of the beer that he had bought, so the family was limited to a claim that the Kings violated Michigan law by allowing under-aged alcohol consumption in a residence under their control.  Stunningly, Judges Boonstra, Saad and Hoekstra ruled that all three Kings "lacked the requisite control over the residence" to be culpable under the statute.

The insurance-friendly judges ruled that the parents did not "knowingly" violate the pertinent statute because they claimed to have been unaware of the activities of their son and his guest in their basement.  The judges further held that Erik "was merely an adult child living in his parents' home, and that as such, he did not have a possessory interest in the home."  Despite his ability to control access to the home, "nothing in the statute indicates that the ability to take corrective action, alone establishes the requisite [statutory] control [over the home]."

So, unbelievably, a grown man with a key to his parents' house and living in the home can violate the alcohol statute with impunity, because he isn't a "possessor" of the home.  I'll bet that if he were found with drugs in the basement and charged criminally, the same judges would have no qualms about his responsibility for that illegal conduct.

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