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TORTS the parents of a child killed in an alcohol-related car accident can maintain their lawsuit against the hosts of a graduation party their son and the car’s driver attended, the Tennessee Court of Appeals ruled on May 1. Downen v. Testa, No. E2002-01320-COA-CV. Adam Downen was a passenger in a car driven by an intoxicated driver when he was killed. Both had been at a graduation party at the home of Michael and Carol Anne Testa, where beer and wine were available. The trial court granted summary judgment for the Testas on the ground that the Tennessee dram shop statute did not apply to social hosts. The court of appeals agreed that there was no social-host liability, but it reversed on the principle of assumption of the duty. At the start of the party, the Testas collected car keys from attendees, but as the night wore on, and the Testas themselves became intoxicated, they stopped collecting keys, and the driver of the car that killed Downen did not have his keys collected. Because the Testas voluntarily undertook the duty to prevent intoxicated drivers from leaving the party, but failed to fully discharge that duty, summary judgment was improper.

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