(This post was updated at 4 p.m. to include reaction from an attorney for one friend.)
Where do we start with the sad case of Amanda Jax, the legal adult who drank herself to death on her birthday? Our time to discuss it intelligently is short. Those being sued actually were served three weeks ago but the family had a news conference today. The subject is the stuff talk radio hosts dream of and once they awake, well, you know.
According to a story by MPR’s Art Hughes, five of her friends are among those being sued by the Jax family. Their alleged crime? They, not Amanda, bought the drinks for her.
The odds are Hannah Marie Becker, Richard Thomas Johnson, Per David Kvalsten, Kathryn Ann Lensing, and Jonathan Robert McIntyre are going to spend a lot more now on attorney fees, although homeowner’s insurance will likely cover the tab.
A description in the Mankato Free Press makes it hard to feel sorry for them:
An exhibit included in the paperwork is a picture (lawyer Alan Milavetz describes as Jax taking her last shot, a mixture of cherry vodka and an energy drink called a “cherry bomb,” with her friends and the bartender, Beau Ryan.
Those friends, also named as defendants in the lawsuit, took pictures of Jax as she sat unconscious outside Sidelines, according to the civil complaint.
Jax’s friends had at least a moral responsibility to take care of her, but did they have a legal one, too?
Mark Solheim, the attorney for Becker, told me this afternoon his client had no legal obligations under state law, and there’s a good reason for that. “Let’s say I have you and your wife over for dinner and at some point I say to you, ‘Bob, that’s your third glass of wine, I have a duty to stop you,’ where does that end? How long would that duty last? What if you fell down and hit your head the next day? How long am I liable?”
Solheim says Becker is devastated by her friend’s death. He says the lawsuit could take up to a year and a half. He says he’s never heard of a case quite like this, adding he has an “active practice in cases involving alcohol.”
Meanwhile, it’ll be open season on the memory of Amanda Jax, who while an underage student in Mankato, was twice convicted of drunken driving; once in 2005 in Hennepin County and in 2006 in McLeod County.
It’s hard to see what a “win” in the case accomplishes.
Criminal charges were not filed in the case.