Jared J. Przekurat, by and through his parent, co-guardian, co-conservator and next friend, Jerome Przekurat, Plaintiff-Appellant,
Christopher Torres, Samuel S. Stimson, Peter Stimson, and Mitchell Davis, Defendants-Appellees.
County District Court No. 12CV540 Honorable Judith L. LaBuda,
Judge Honorable Bruce Langer, Judge
Ciccarelli & Associates, P.C., A. Troy Ciccarelli,
Littleton, Colorado; The Fowler Law Firm, LLC, Timms R.
Fowler, Fort Collins, Colorado, for Plaintiff-Appellant
& Evans, L.L.C., Alan Epstein, Denver, Colorado; Ray Lego
& Associates, Thomas E. Hames, Greenwood Village,
Colorado, for Defendant-Appellee Christopher Torres
Prendergast & Associates, P.C., Paul A. Prendergast,
Littleton, Colorado, for Defendants-Appellees Samuel S.
Stimson and Peter Stimson
Campbell, Latiolais & Averbach, LLC, Colin C. Campbell,
Kirsten M. Dvorchak, Denver, Colorado, for Defendant-Appellee
1 In 2005, the General Assembly amended the Colorado Dram
Shop Act, section 12-47-801, C.R.S. 2016, to impose civil
liability not only when a social host knowingly served
alcoholic beverages to a person under the age of twenty-one,
but also when the social host "knowingly provided the
person under the age of twenty-one a place to consume an
alcoholic beverage." § 12-47-801(4)(a)(I);
see Ch. 282, sec. 6, § 12-47-801, 2005 Colo.
Sess. Laws 1244-45. No Colorado appellate court has addressed
the meaning of the 2005 amendments; this case requires us to
2 Plaintiff, Jared J. Przekurat, was severely injured after
Hank Sieck drove Przekurat's car home from a party and
was involved in a catastrophic single-car accident. Sieck was
highly intoxicated at the time of the accident and was under
the age of twenty-one.
3 Przekurat claimed that the four hosts of the party,
defendants Christopher Torres, Samuel S. Stimson, Peter
Stimson, and Mitchell Davis (the hosts), were liable for his
damages under the 2005 amendments to the Dram Shop Act
because the hosts "knowingly provided [Sieck] a place to
consume an alcoholic beverage." In granting the
hosts' summary judgment motion, the district court
rejected Przekurat's expansive interpretation of the 2005
amendments and determined that Przekurat failed to establish
that there were disputed issues of material fact on whether
any of the hosts knew that Sieck was under the age of
twenty-one or that he was drinking alcohol at the party.
4 We conclude that the trial court correctly construed the
2005 amendments and also correctly determined that Przekurat
failed to demonstrate a disputed issue of material fact
regarding the hosts' knowledge that Sieck was underage
and was drinking at the party. Accordingly, we affirm the
summary judgment in favor of the hosts.
5 While we agree with Przekurat that the district court erred
in denying on jurisdictional grounds his motion for
reconsideration of summary judgment, that error does not
require reversal or a remand.
Relevant Facts and Procedural History
6 The hosts shared a house in Boulder. To celebrate
Davis' twenty-fourth birthday and Torres' graduation
from college, they planned a party at the house. The hosts
invited numerous people to the party, hired a disc jockey,
and provided two kegs of beer. Although the witnesses'
testimony varied regarding the number of attendees at the
party, it appears that at various times, between twenty to
more than one hundred people attended.
7 Among the attendees were Przekurat, who was twenty-one
years old at the time, and Sieck, who was twenty years old.
Sieck did not know any of the hosts, but was invited to the
party by his friend, Victor Mejia, who in turn had been
invited not by one of the hosts, but by another person who
was also involved in planning the party. The only indication
that Sieck interacted with any of the hosts that night came
from Mejia's deposition testimony, where he stated that
he, Sieck, and some others encountered Torres in the kitchen
of the house where the party was taking place. According to
Mejia, Torres said to Mejia something like "I don't
really know these other people, but I know you." There
was no evidence in the record that Sieck (or anyone else)
ever told the hosts that Sieck was under the age of
8 Sieck apparently drank substantial amounts of alcohol at
the party. At approximately two o'clock in the
morning, Sieck, Przekurat, and Mejia left the party in
Przekurat's car, which Sieck drove. Sieck drove at speeds
in excess of one hundred miles per hour before losing control
of the car, driving off of the road, and colliding with an
embankment. The car rolled several times, ejecting Przekurat.
All three occupants of the car survived the crash, but
Przekurat sustained catastrophic injuries, including brain
damage, which rendered him incompetent and he now requires
around-the-clock care for the rest of his life.
9 Przekurat's father sued the hosts on Przekurat's
behalf, alleging, as pertinent to this appeal, liability
under section 12-47-801(4)(a)(I) of the Dram Shop Act.
10 After his pre-discovery summary judgment motion was
denied, Torres renewed his motion for summary judgment
following the completion of discovery. He asserted that no
evidence showed that he knew Sieck was drinking in his home
or that Sieck was underage. The other three hosts moved for
summary judgment on similar grounds.
11 Przekurat opposed the summary judgment motions, asserting
that the hosts freely provided alcohol at the party, guests
were invited without restriction, the hosts knew it was
likely that people under the age of twenty-one would drink
alcohol at the party, and many underage people drank alcohol
at the party.
12 The district court granted summary judgment in favor of
all the hosts, finding that there was no evidence "that
Defendants had actual knowledge that Sieck was under the age
of 21 and was either knowingly supplied alcohol by Defendants
or knowingly allowed to consume alcohol on Defendants'
13 The court (with a different judge presiding) later denied
Przekurat's motion to reconsider summary judgment not on
the merits, but because it had been filed beyond the
fourteen-day period prescribed by C.R.C.P. 59, thus
supposedly depriving the court of jurisdiction.
Interpretation of the "Social Host" Provision of
the Colorado Dram Shop Act
14 Przekurat first argues that the district court erred when
it held that section 12-47-801(4)(a)(I) of the Dram Shop Act
requires actual knowledge of two separate elements: (1) that
the defendant provided a place for the consumption of alcohol
by a person under the age of twenty-one and (2) that the
defendant knew that the person who consumed alcohol at that
place was under the age of twenty-one. We hold that the
district court correctly construed and applied the statute.
15 Statutory interpretation presents a question of law that
we review de novo. Build It & They Will Drink, Inc.
v. Strauch, 253 P.3d 302, 304 (Colo. 2011). "When
interpreting a statute, we must ascertain and effectuate the
intent of the General Assembly." Vanderborgh v.
Krauth, 2016 COA 27, ¶ 8. To do so, we look first
to the statutory language, giving words and phrases their
plain and ordinary meanings according to the rules of grammar
and common usage. § 2-4-101, C.R.S. 2016; Krol v. CF
& I Steel, 2013 COA 32, ¶ 15.
16 "We read the language in the dual contexts of the
statute as a whole and the comprehensive statutory scheme,
giving consistent, harmonious, and sensible effect to all of
the statute's language." Krol, ¶ 15.
After doing this, if we determine that the statute is not
ambiguous, we enforce it as written and do not resort to
other rules of statutory construction. Id.
17 In enacting the Dram Shop Act, section 12-47-801, the
General Assembly codified the common law rule that, except
under limited circumstances, the consumption of
alcohol is the proximate cause of injuries inflicted by an
intoxicated person, not the provision of alcohol to
that person. § 12-47-801(1); Build It, 253 P.3d
at 307. Section 12-47-801 also codifies the limited
exceptions to the general rule and thus provides the
exclusive remedy for a plaintiff injured by an intoxicated
person against a provider of alcoholic beverages. Build
It, 253 P.3d at 305. As relevant here, section
No social host who furnishes any alcohol beverage is civilly
liable to any injured individual . . . because of the
intoxication of any person due to the consumption of such
alcohol beverages, except when . . . [i]t is proven that the
social host knowingly served any alcohol beverage to such
person who was under the age of twenty-one years or knowingly
provided the person under the age of twenty-one a place to
consume an alcoholic beverage[.]
18 To decide this case, we must determine whether the word
"knowingly, " which is not defined in the Dram Shop
Act, applies to both the act of providing a place for a
person to consume an alcoholic beverage and the age of the
drinker, or, rather, as Przekurat contends, liability is
established by proof only that the social host provided a
"place to consume an alcoholic beverage" without
regard to the social host's knowledge of the age of the
19 To decide this question, we look to the plain language of
the 2005 amendments as well as to this court's decision
in Dickman v. Jackalope, Inc., 870 P.2d
1261 (Colo.App. 1994). While Dickman addressed the
statutory phrase "willfully and knowingly" in the
context of the liability of liquor licensees for injuries to
a person who was served alcohol by the licensees, it is
nevertheless instructive. The statute addressed in
No licensee is civilly liable to any injured individual or
his or her estate for any injury to such individual or damage
to any property suffered because of the intoxication of any
person due to the sale or service of any alcohol beverage to
such person, except when . . . [i]t is proven that the
licensee willfully and knowingly sold or served any