The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed summary judgment in favor of a Pittsboro man in a lawsuit alleging he was liable for the death of friend because he furnished alcohol at a party. The friend died in a car accident while riding with another teen who had consumed alcohol at the party.
In 2012, 18-year-old Sean Bloomquist threw a party at his father’s home while his father, stepmother and older brother were away. Bloomquist, Nathan Gentry and Andrew Gaddie gave money to 19-year old Dustin Stamm to buy alcohol. Stamm purchased a case of beer, which was left in the open trunk of his car during the party. Seventeen-year-old Christopher Hubbard arrived later at the party and he drank some of the beer. The next morning, he and Gentry left to drive another partygoer to softball practice. Hubbard’s car struck a tree and Gentry died as a result of the collision.
Gentry’s father, Albert C. Gentry II, sued Bloomquist, alleging he was liable for his son’s death because he furnished alcohol to Hubbard with actual knowledge that Hubbard was visibility intoxicated and the intoxication was a proximate cause of Nathan Gentry’s death. The trial court granted Bloomquist’s motion for summary judgment.
In Albert C. Gentry, II v. Nora Day, and Sean Bloomquist; Nora Day v. Sean R. Bloomquist, 32A01-1406-CT-226, the COA reversed and remanded for further proceedings because there is a genuine issue of material fact as to whether Bloomquist furnished the alcohol to Hubbard. The judges found Brattain v. Herron, 159 Ind. App. 663, 309 N.E.2d 150 (1974), to be instructive. In that case, Brattain, the older sister of 20-year-old Farmer, allowed Farmer and his friend to drink her alcohol while in her house. They later drove home and collided with a pickup truck, resulting in the death of three of its occupants. The court found Brattain violated the statute by providing alcohol to people under 21.
“Bloomquist did not personally purchase the beer, but he contributed money for the beer. Like Brattain, Bloomquist allowed Hubbard, his guest, onto the premises and gave him permission to drink the beer, which was kept in a car trunk on the premises. At the very least, conflicting inferences could be drawn regarding whether Bloomquist was the active means by and through which the beer was placed in Hubbard’s custody and control,” Judge Terry Crone wrote.