Court says friends could be liable for man's fall from cliff

A man who fell off a cliff in California has sued the people who brought him there, claiming they acted with negligence and willful misconduct. Although the lawsuit was previously thrown out, an appellate panel recently ruled that the case will be allowed to move forward.

The accident took place in October 2008 after the three had attended a party together. The plaintiff had reportedly gotten drunk at the party and continued to consume alcohol after leaving with the two defendants, who took him to another party and later to a cliff to watch the sunrise. While there, the plaintiff fell from the cliff and onto some rocks below.

According to the man's claim, the defendants waited several hours to seek help after the fall because they were afraid that reporting the accident would get them in trouble. Instead, he claims, they went looking for him themselves in the river below, but could not find him.

Then, according to the lawsuit, one of the two defendants told her mother that the plaintiff had committed suicide by jumping from the cliff. Eventually, the pair called the police and the plaintiff was found alive shortly thereafter.

Negligence occurs when one party owes a duty of care to another and some type of harm occurs as a result of the failure to perform that duty. His lawsuit alleges that the defendants breached a duty of care to him by bringing him to the cliff when they knew he was intoxicated, and by failing to summon help more quickly. If his claim succeeds, he may be entitled to monetary damages for his injuries and other losses resulting from the incident.

Source: Courthouse News Service, "Friends May Be Liable for Man's Drunken Cliff Fall," Jeff D. Gorman, July 14, 2014

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