Monday, November 11, 2013

Wakulich v. Mraz case brief

Wakulich v. Mraz case brief summary
751 N.E.2d 1(2001)

Plaintiff administratrix of decedent teen-age daughter's estate appealed Cook County Circuit Court (Illinois) dismissal for failure to state a claim of her wrongful death and survival actions against defendant father and sons based on providing alcohol to decedent and failing to exercise due care thereafter.


Plaintiff's teen-age daughter died of alcohol poisoning after drinking an enormous amount on a dare of defendant teen-age boys whose defendant father was home throughout these events.


  • The court affirmed dismissal of plaintiff's claims based on negligent provision of alcohol to a minor, because Illinois statutory and case law made it clear that there was no social host liability in Illinois beyond the preemptive reach of the Dramshop Act, 235 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/6-21 (1996). 
  • There was a narrow exception of arguable viability that applied to fraternity hazing situations, but plaintiff's decedent was not subject to that level of social pressure, nor was there a statutory policy as clearly expressed as the Illinois anti-hazing statute involved. 
  • Plaintiff did, however, plead sufficient facts indicating that defendant sons voluntarily undertook to care for decedent after she lost consciousness, and they could be liable for failure to exercise due care in that undertaking.

The court affirmed in part, because Illinois law rejected social host liability, but reversed and remanded for further proceedings regarding plaintiff's claim that defendant sons voluntarily undertook to care for decedent after she passed out. It also suggested that plaintiff be allowed to amend her survival complaint.

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