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FAIEZ ENNABE v. CARLOS MANOSA et al

December 1, 2010

FAIEZ ENNABE,
INDIVIDUALLY AND AS ADMINISTRATOR, ETC., ET AL., PLAINTIFFS AND APPELLANTS,
v.
CARLOS MANOSA ET AL., DEFENDANTS AND RESPONDENTS.



Los Angeles County Super. Ct. No. KC053945 APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County. Robert A. Dukes, Judge. Affirmed.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Mallano, P. J.

CERTIFIED FOR PUBLICATION

Civil Code section 1714, subdivision (c)*fn1 provides broad immunity from civil liability for a social host who "furnishes alcoholic beverages to any person." Under Business and Professions Code section 25602.1, the social host loses that immunity if he or she "sells, or causes to be sold, any alcoholic beverage, to any obviously intoxicated minor."*fn2 In this case of first impression, we hold that a social host charging guests an admission or entrance fee of $3 to $5 to a party where alcoholic beverages are available has not sold or caused to be sold an alcoholic beverage under Business and Professions Code section 25602.1 and is not civilly liable for damages for admitting to the party an obviously intoxicated minor who, upon leaving the party, drives his car into a pedestrian, another partygoer, killing him. Nor is such a social host "required to be licensed" within the meaning of Business and Professions Code section 25602.1. We therefore affirm the summary judgment granted in favor of defendant Jessica Manosa on the amended complaint of plaintiffs Faiez and Christina Ennabe for the wrongful death of their son, Andrew Ennabe.*fn3

BACKGROUND

Although some of the facts are disputed, we view the record in a light most favorable to the plaintiffs and assume as true the plaintiffs' version of all disputed facts presented in opposition to the summary judgment motion. (Wilson v. Murillo (2008) 163 Cal.App.4th 1124, 1128.)

In April 2007, 20-year-old Manosa hosted a house party at a vacant rental residence owned by her parents. The party was publicized to friends and non-friends by word-of-mouth, telephone, and text messaging, resulting in approximately 40 to 60 people in attendance. The majority of the people at the party were under age 21, and about one-third were unknown to Manosa. Earlier in the day, Manosa contributed $60 and two of her friends together contributed another $60 to purchase beer, tequila, and rum. According to Manosa, one of her two friends used fake identification to purchase the alcoholic beverages, but in their depositions the friends denied purchasing or supplying any of the alcoholic beverages. The alcoholic beverages were "communal" and available without limitation to the partygoers. Some guests brought their own alcoholic beverages to the party.

Guests gained access to the party by entering the rear yard of the house through a side walkway. Stationed at the walkway entrance was Todd Brown, a friend of a friend of Manosa. Manosa directed Brown to serve as a "bouncer" and to charge unfamiliar guests an admission fee. Unfamiliar partygoers were charged from $3 to $5. Payment of the fee allowed partygoers admission onto the property, an opportunity to enjoy music played by a professional disc jockey, and "access to whatever food and drink were there," including several cases of beer, three to four bottles of tequila and rum, and a cooler of hard alcoholic beverages with fruit juice, known as "jungle juice."

Between $50 and $60 were collected from the entrance fee; some of that money was used to buy additional alcoholic beverages during the course of the party.

Andrew Ennabe, age 19, a friend of Manosa, was not charged an admission fee. Earlier, Ennabe had been to another party. He arrived at Manosa's party in a state of obvious intoxication, and there he drank more alcoholic beverages. Thomas Garcia, age 20, was unknown to Manosa. Garcia was admitted to Manosa's party after he paid an admission fee for himself and a group of his friends. The person who took his money told him that there were alcoholic beverages if he wanted them. When Garcia arrived at Manosa's party, he was in a state of obvious intoxication. At the party he drank alcoholic beverages and acted in a rowdy and belligerent manner. After Garcia harassed female guests and dropped his pants several times, he was asked to leave the party. Ennabe and some other guests escorted Garcia off the premises and to his car. In driving away, Garcia struck Ennabe, who died a week later from his injuries. Garcia was convicted of a felony in connection with the death of Ennabe and sentenced to 14 years in prison.

Manosa did not know Garcia or his friends; she never saw Garcia during the party, did not know he was there, and was not aware of any problems with Garcia or other party guests. The April 2007 party was the only social gathering Manosa had held on the property.

Andrew Ennabe's parents, on behalf of themselves and the estate of their son, filed a wrongful death action against Manosa. After answering the amended complaint, Manosa moved for summary judgment on the grounds that she was immune from liability under Civil Code section 1714 and that Business and Professions Code section 25602.1 was not applicable. In opposition to the motion, plaintiffs argued that Manosa was not acting as a "social host" under Civil Code section 1714, subdivision (c) because she charged a fee to unknown and uninvited guests and that Manosa had forfeited immunity from civil liability under Business and Professions Code section 25602.1 for the same reason. After a hearing, the trial court granted the motion and rendered a summary judgment in Manosa's favor. Plaintiffs appealed.

DISCUSSION

Plaintiffs seek to impose civil liability on Manosa under the "required to be licensed" and the "any other person who sells" clauses of section 25602.1. As explained below, we conclude that the facts viewed most favorably to plaintiffs establish as a matter of law that Manosa (1) did not "sell or cause to be sold" an alcoholic beverage and (2) was not "required to be licensed" within the meaning of section 25602.1.

We exercise a de novo standard in reviewing a ruling on a summary judgment motion and underlying statutory construction issues. (MacIsaac v. Waste Management Collection & Recycling, Inc. (2005) 134 Cal.App.4th 1076, 1081-1082 (MacIsaac); Barner ...


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