This is the time of year to party. There are graduation parties, prom parties, cocktail parties, beach parties; just about any party we can imagine. What happens when excessive alcohol or illicit drugs are consumed at a party and the individual who ingests the alcohol or drugs is injured? Is the homeowner’s insurance policy required to provide coverage? This exact question was answered in a recent New Jersey Appellate Division case entitled Flomerfelt v. Cardiello. In this case a twenty-one year old woman attended a party. The woman ingested alcohol and illicit drugs. She lost consciousness and was admitted to the intensive care unit of a local hospital. The issue the Court addressed in this case involved the homeowner’s insurance policy’s requirement to cover this loss. The insurance policy contained a clause that specifically excludes claims for bodily injury that “arise out of the use, sale, manufacture, delivery, transfer or possession by any person of a controlled substance.”
The Court ruled in favor of the insurance company. Exclusions to coverage are to be narrowly construed. The exclusion here is very specific. The plaintiff’s expert in this case testified that marijuana, opiates, cocaine and alcohol were found in the plaintiff’s blood. Because a “controlled substance” had been consumed by the plaintiff, the insurance company did not have to provide coverage to the homeowner. However, if the plaintiff had merely consumed alcohol, the homeowner’s insurance company would have to provide coverage to its insured.
Unfortunately, it is common for individuals to consume excessive amounts of alcohol at parties. They can either become injured at the party or after leaving the party. Homeowners can be responsible for such injuries. If the fact patterns described here are familiar to you, or to someone who is close to you, please contact an attorney at the law firm of Lependorf & Silverstein for a consultation regarding your rights. The Princeton New Jersey personal injury attorneys at the Princeton, New Jersey Law Firm of Lependorf & Silverstein may be able to help. Let our experience counsel you. Please call the law firm of Lependorf & Silverstein today for a consultation regarding your legal rights.