Ill. Family of Dead Teen Sues Couple Where Drinking Was Allowed

October 11, 2007

The family of a teenager killed in a car crash last year has sued a suburban Chicago family, claiming it was negligent in allowing the victim to drink alcohol at a house party.

In a lawsuit filed Monday, Oct. 8th in Lake County, the family of 18-year-old Ross Trace said negligent supervision from Jeffrey and Sara Hutsell of Deerfield and their son, Jonathan Hutsell, caused the teen’s death.

The lawsuit also alleges the Hutsells had hosted parties in which minors were drinking “on multiple occasions.”

Jeffrey and Sara Hutsell were convicted in July by a Lake County jury of endangering the life of child, violation of the state liquor control act and obstruction of justice by lying to police the night of the accident.

Approximately 30 teens, all 19 and younger, attended the Oct. 13 party in the Hutsells’ basement. Prosecutors said during the trial that many teens drank alcohol while Sara and Jeffrey Hutsell were upstairs. They said it should have been obvious to the Hutsells that teenagers were drinking in their home.

Trace and 18-year-old Daniel Bell left the party and were killed when a car Bell was driving struck a tree at the end of the Hutsells’ driveway. An autopsy revealed that Bell had a high blood-alcohol level.

Last month, a judge sentenced Jeffrey Hutsell to 14 days in jail and ordered that both he and his wife perform community service.

The case helped prompt Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich to sign legislation in August that increases penalties for adults who knowingly allow underage drinking in their homes.

Was this article valuable?

Here are more articles you may enjoy.