“Pot” Luck

As though you needed any more reasons for forbidding use of marijuana in your home, . . .

Recently, the Erie County Court of Common Pleas ruled against a social host–son of a homeowner, in plain English–who permitted marijuana to be consumed in his house by a person who then negligently caused a serious auto accident.  The jury determined that the plaintiff’s injuries were so serious that the verdict exceeded the defendant-driver’s insurance coverage, and that the homeowner was responsible for the excess, on the theory that the homeowner’s minor child permitted the defendant-driver to consume marijuana in the house, a crime, and that permitting a criminal act which intoxicated the driver was no different than permitting a minor-driver to illegally consume alcohol on the premises before getting into his car.

The Court rejected the contention that because the defendant-driver and the social host were both minors, the case should be treated as an underage-drinking case, where there would be no liability on the social host because both he and the defendant-driver were underage.  The Court held that, unlike with underage drinking, marijuana use is illegal regardless of age, and therefore the social host cannot use his own minority as a defense.  The Court held that the social host’s parents’ homeowners policy had to pay for the excess verdict.  And it would be no defense to the parents that the marijuana smoking was done out in the garage, where they had no knowledge of it, so long as their child, the social host, knew about it.

If you have any questions about this or any other matter please give me a call at 610-565-9800..  If you can’t call during regular hours, my home phone number remains 610-565-7712.

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