Leonard v. Transylvania County Department of Social Services (Lawyers Weekly No. 15-16-0626, 16 pp.) (Linda McGee, C.J.) Appealed from Transylvania County Superior Court (Marvin Pope Jr., J.) N.C. App. Unpub.
Holding: Even if the defendant-homeowners had a duty to control their 19-year-old son, and even if the homeowners breached that duty, plaintiff has not shown that it was reasonably foreseeable that such a breach would result in the death of plaintiff’s son.
We affirm summary judgment for the homeowners.
While the homeowners were out of town, their 19-year-old son, Scott, threw a party at their house. During the party, Scott and another partygoer had physical fights with plaintiff’s son, Michael.
When a neighbor called the homeowners, they asked the neighbor to break up the party, and he did so. Michael got in the same car as Scott. Scott left the injured Michael in a deserted parking lot, shirtless, in subfreezing temperatures.
Despite a police search, Michael was found dead of exposure in a nearby field the next morning. Scott was convicted of involuntary manslaughter.
Plaintiff argues that, if the homeowners had acted faster in their cooperation with police, law enforcement might have been able to reach Michael while was still alive. Plaintiff’s speculative statements do not raise a genuine issue of material fact as to the proximate cause element of her claim.