DOMINIC PIZZUTO, VELMA PIZZUTO, and CARMEN PIZZUTO, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
ROBERT G. ADAMS, JENNY ADAMS, MONICA ADAMS, GERARD ADAMS, PERAGH PATEL, JOSEPH FASOLO, JOSEPH FERRERI, Defendants, and CHRISTINA AURICCHIO, LIA GIACHINO, ALYSSA CASALINO, Defendants-Respondents. PERAGH PATEL, Defendant/Third-Party Plaintiff,
MATTHEW SCHMARAK and HOLLYWOOD LIQUORS, Third-Party Defendants.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Argued April 23, 2013
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Bergen County, Docket Nos. L-9576-08 and L-5407-10.
Glenn M. Gerlanc argued the cause for appellants (Parisi & Gerlanc, attorneys; Mr. Gerlanc, of counsel and on the brief; Aileen D. Dumlao, on the brief).
Annette Verdesco argued the cause for respondent Christina Auricchio (Anthony Pope Law Firm, attorneys; Ms. Verdesco, on the brief).
Robert J. Gallop argued the cause for respondent Lia Giachino (O'Toole Fernandez Weiner and Van Liew, L.L.C., attorneys; on the brief).
Russell A. Pepe argued the cause for respondent Alyssa Casalino (Harwood Lloyd, L.L.C., attorneys; Mr. Pepe, of counsel and on the brief; Seth D. Griep, on the brief).
Before Judges Reisner, Hayden and Hoffman.
Plaintiff Dominic Pizzuto (plaintiff) and his parents, plaintiffs Velma and Carmen Pizzuto, appeal from three orders dated October 6, 2011, granting summary judgment to defendants Christina Auricchio, Lia Giachino, and Alyssa Casalino. After reviewing the record de novo, we agree with the trial judge that there were no material facts in dispute, and in light of the undisputed facts, plaintiffs had no cause of action against these defendants. See Brill v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 142 N.J. 520, 540 (1995); Prudential Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co. v. Boylan, 307 N.J.Super. 162, 167 (App. Div.), certif. denied, 154 N.J. 608 (1998). Therefore, we affirm.
The case arises from a New Year's Eve party at the home of Monica Adams (Monica), a seventeen-year-old high school student whose parents were out of town and did not know about the party. Defendants, who were sixteen years old, were Monica's friends and classmates. They knew Monica was planning to have a party for a few friends at her house, while her parents were out of town. They discussed the party plans with Monica, but none of the defendants brought any food, beverages or other supplies to the party. At her deposition, Monica testified that it was her party, she was hosting it, and she did not ask or expect her friends to bring anything. There is no testimony in the record that any of the defendants knew there would be alcohol at the party, planned to have alcohol at the party, brought alcohol to the party, or served alcohol to any guests.
Plaintiff, who was underage, came to the party with four companions, only one of whom was an invited guest. He and his friends brought two bottles of Southern Comfort and a bag containing other alcoholic beverages to the party. Plaintiff consumed large amounts of alcohol, got drunk, and got into an altercation with three other male guests. In the ensuing melee, one of those guests hit plaintiff in the eye, causing a permanent loss of vision. There was no evidence that the three male guests were intoxicated or that they appeared to be intoxicated.
Defendants were not involved in the fight. In fact, one of them was asleep at the time. When the police arrived at the scene, they charged Monica with serving alcohol to underage persons. See N.J.S.A. 2C:33-17(a). The three male guests involved in the altercation with plaintiff were charged with assault. Defendants were not charged with any offense.
Plaintiffs filed suit against Monica and her parents and the three male guests. More than a year later, plaintiffs amended the complaint to add defendants, on the theory that they helped Monica plan the party without her parents' knowledge and, therefore, were responsible for what occurred at the party. At the oral argument of the summary judgment motion, plaintiffs' counsel conceded that there were no cases directly on point that supported liability ...