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Gentry v. Day

Court of Appeals of Indiana

December 4, 2014

ALBERT C. GENTRY, II, Appellant-Plaintiff,
v.
NORA DAY, Defendant, and SEAN R. BLOOMQUIST, Appellee-Defendant. NORA DAY, Cross-Claimant,
v.
SEAN R. BLOOMQUIST, Cross-Claim Defendant

APPEAL FROM THE HENDRICKS SUPERIOR COURT. The Honorable Stephenie D. LeMay-Luken, Judge. Cause No. 32D05-1206-CT-86.

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: JOHN F. TOWNSEND, III, Townsend & Townsend, LLP, Indianapolis, Indiana.

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: ROBERT A. DURHAM, ABBEY E. JEZIORSKI, State Farm Litigation Counsel, Indianapolis, Indiana.

CRONE, Judge. VAIDIK, C.J., and BARNES, J., concur.

OPINION

Page 711

CRONE, Judge

Case Summary

Eighteen-year-old Sean R. Bloomquist hosted a party at his father's home while

Page 712

his father, stepmother, and older brother were away. Bloomquist, eighteen-year-old Nathan Gentry (" Nathan" ), and seventeen-year-old Andrew Gaddie gave money to nineteen-year-old Dustin Stamm to purchase alcohol. Stamm went by himself to purchase the alcohol and returned to Bloomquist's home with a case of beer, which was kept in the open trunk of Stamm's car during the party. Seventeen-year-old Christopher Hubbard arrived at the party after the beer was purchased, and Bloomquist gave him permission to have some beer. Hubbard drank beer and played " beer pong" at the party and went to bed in Bloomquist's home between midnight and 2:00 a.m. Hubbard awoke around 8:00 the next morning and left the house with Bloomquist and Nathan to drive another partygoer to softball practice. Hubbard's vehicle struck a tree, and Nathan died as a result of the collision.

Under Indiana law, a person is subject to civil liability for damages if he " furnished" alcohol to a minor with actual knowledge that the minor was visibly intoxicated when the alcohol was furnished and the intoxication was a proximate cause of the damage. Ind. Code § § 7.1-5-7-8, 7.1-5-10-15, 7.1-5-10-15.5. Our cases have held that a person " furnishes" alcohol in violation of the relevant statutes where that person is " 'the active means' by and through which the [alcohol] was placed in the custody and control of the intoxicated person." Rauck v. Hawn, 564 N.E.2d 334, 337 (Ind.Ct.App. 1990) (quoting Lather v. Berg, 519 N.E.2d 755, 761 (Ind.Ct.App. 1988)).

Nathan's father, Albert C. Gentry, II (" Gentry" ), filed a complaint alleging that Bloomquist was liable for Nathan's death because he furnished alcohol to Hubbard with actual knowledge that Hubbard was visibly intoxicated and the intoxication was a proximate cause of Nathan's death. Bloomquist filed a motion for summary judgment asserting that he did not furnish alcohol to Hubbard as a matter of law. The trial court granted Bloomquist's summary judgment motion.

Gentry now appeals, arguing that a genuine issue of material fact exists regarding whether Bloomquist furnished alcohol to Hubbard. We agree with Gentry and ...


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