Franco v. Dickinson

If you have a child who will attend or currently goes to college, read Franco v. Dickinson. In this appeal, the New Jersey Appellate Division answered questions concerning the scope of the duty owed to an adult who is not old enough to drink legally but who nonetheless drinks alcohol to excess and injures himself in a car accident. In 2014, Kenneth Franco, a twenty-year-old college student, went to a social gathering in a suite in a residential hall at Fairleigh Dickinson University. Franco told the suitemates and his parents that he planned to spend the night in the suite. In addition to bringing an overnight bag, Franco brought and consumed alcohol. He became visibly intoxicated and then fell asleep on a couch in the suite. Sometime later, the suitemates and remaining guests either left or went to sleep. At about 5 a.m., Franco awoke, left the suite, and was severely injured when his car went off the road, struck a parked vehicle, and flipped over. Franco and his parents sued, arguing that the University and the students in the suite had a duty to take action that would have prevented him from driving while drunk. The trial court granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment. The Appellate Division reversed and held that, while certain defendants had no duty, the duty of other defendants, and a related causation issue, presented questions of fact for a jury to resolve.

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