Tort Law

Man who fell off cliff while drunk can sue those who took him there to watch sunrise, court rules


A California man who fell off a cliff while drunk can sue two acquaintances who brought him there, a state appeals court has ruled.

Reversing a pretrial dismissal of all claims against the two defendants by a Shasta County judge, a Third Appellate District panel ruled last week that Jason Michael Carlsen could proceed to trial on some of his claims, Courthouse News reports.

Zachary Gudelunas and Sarah Koivumaki panicked after Carlsen fell, searching for him themselves instead of immediately calling for help, according to Carlsen’s lawsuit, which cited depositions from Gudelunas and Koivumaki and others. That claimed several-hour delay in calling authorities, coupled with the fact that Koivumaki helped bring Carlsen there, creates a sufficient basis for her to be tried on negligence and willful misconduct claims asserted by Carlsen, the appellate panel ruled.

However, it dismissed assault and battery claims against Koivumaki, calling Carlsen’s contention that she pushed him “unreasonable,” and held that the plaintiff cannot sue for emotional distress because he has no memory of the incident.

Gudelunas also must face the negligence and willful misconduct claims because he failed to answer the complaint by Carlsen. That means well-pleaded allegations against him are deemed to have been admitted.

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