A wrongful death case was settled recently that involved a party held at a private residence in Midway, N.C. Those who planned the party may have originally had a good purpose in mind, but the end result was anything but good. The party was to celebrate the graduation of the daughter of the homeowner, Katherine Pritchard. The party was hosted by Ms. Pritchard and her son, John. Both Ms. Pritchard and her son knew that liquor would be served to underage persons at the party. In fact, they bought or paid for the liquor. It was reported that wide-spread drug use was allowed at the party. From all accounts, there was no supervision of activities at the party which included “drinking games” of all sorts.
Shelby Chisom, a teenager and an invited guest at the party, was killed after she had left the party in a car with friends. There had been arguments that included Shelby and others at the party. There were also numerous threats of violence by several of the youngsters. It was pretty obvious that things got totally out of hand that night. Shelby was hit by a 25 pound paving stone that was thrown through the window of her vehicle by Michael Craven, one of the party-goers who had been drinking heavily. Shelby was severely injured and died later in the hospital.
Shelby’s family filed suit against Katherine Pritchard, the homeowner, her son John and Michael Craver, the boy who threw the stone. Several others who were at the party were also sued. The settlement, which is confidential, was made by the Pritchards and Michael Craver. This case is a prime example of what can happen when adults allow parties that involve alcohol use by teenagers to be held at their homes. The death of Shelby Chisom resulted from such a party that evolved into a drunken brawl.
Young people who attend parties in a private home are entitled to have a safe environment, unlike this one. This party was attended by about 50 youngsters and, as previously mentioned, there was no supervision of any kind. In fact, Ms. Pritchard was said to have gone to bed, leaving the party at her home going full blast. This is a prime example of poor judgment, bordering on stupidity, resulting in the death of a young person.
John Vermitsky, a lawyer with Morrow Porter Vermitsky & Fowler, located in Winston-Salem, N.C., represented the Chisom family and he did a good job in their case.
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