CANADIAN COUNTY, Okla. (KFOR) – A Canadian County judge ruled a wedding venue in Edmond is not liable in a lawsuit from a deadly wrong-way crash that ended the life of a young UCO student.
“There is no statutory duty, or common law duty, for a person to prevent injury to a third party,” said John Hunsucker, a DUI attorney.
“They had rules in place to prevent harm,” said Kristy Murrow.
Kristy and Jeff Murrow believe their daughter, Marissa Murrow, would still be alive today if The Springs event center in Edmond stuck to its alcohol policy. In August, attorneys for the family showed picture after picture of Malcolm Penney breaking the venue’s alcohol rules just hours before the deadly wrong-way crash, which ended 18-year-old Murrow’s life nearly two years ago.
“I’m sure [Penney] would have appreciated them enforcing their rules as well,” said Kristy Murrow.
Attorneys for the event center argue the fault lies with Penney, and say The Springs was just a social host.
“We have a social host statute in our state that says if you provide a place where a minor is able to consume alcohol or drugs, it is a crime,” said Capt. Erik Smoot, with the ABLE commission.
“They’re using social host in a different context here, that as a social host, you have no responsibility to a third party as far as liability,” said Hunsucker.
The main question in this case is, did The Springs owe Marissa a duty, under the law, for what Penney is convicted of doing? In court documents, the judge said in part, “no, they did not.”
Hunsucker and Smoot agree with the judge, because this situation is different than going to a bar, which they said can be held responsible for over-serving customers.
“What happens with a lot of these wedding venues is they are not licensed,” said Smoot. “And because of that, they’re not always held responsible in the same way that a licensed establishment to sell alcohol would be.”
“The Springs did not furnish the alcohol or provide the alcohol. There’s another vendor there that did so,” said Hunsucker. “I would definitely make sure that whoever you use for a venue, one has insurance to cover any liability.”
The Murrows told KFOR they plan to appeal. Although they did not want to go on camera Wednesday, they sent News 4 the following statement:
“We are evaluating and deciding on options for moving forward. No matter how the litigation goes, we will continue to fight to raise awareness on the issues that lead to Marissa’s untimely end and we look forward to telling her story however and whenever possible.”The Murrows
The attorneys for The Springs declined to comment.