An Ottawa judge has dismissed a lawsuit against the hosts of a party at which a man got drunk before he drove his automobile into a car full of teenagers.
The accident happened in the early hours of New Year's Day 1999.
The suit was launched by Zoe Childs, who was left a paraplegic by the accident. The 18-year-old was heading home with three of her closest friends.
Desmond Desormeaux was also heading home. He'd just left a New Year's Eve party, and his blood alcohol limit was three times the legal limit.
The two cars collided, killing one of Childs' friends and leaving her badly injured.
On Friday, a judge dismissed her suit against the couple who hosted the party Desormeaux had been at the night of the accident. In his decision, Justice James Chadwick wrote, "A finding of liability against the social hosts would place an inordinate burden on all social hosts."
The lawyer for the hosts, Eric Williams, agreed. "Most alcohol is consumed in what we would call a social situation, be it at the home at a Sunday night dinner, be it at the campground, be it on a boat. Someone is going to inevitably be designated to be the host of that situation."
Bruce Feldthusen, dean of law at the University of Ottawa, says he's not surprised by the judge's decision.
"We're seeing in law, and law usually mirrors society, a shift back to the idea that people should be responsible for their own actions."
Childs' lawyer said his client hasn't ruled out an appeal and suggested the case could eventually end up in the Supreme Court of Canada.