Drunk Now, Litigious Later

Lawsuits to roll your eyes at: they’re not just filed by Americans anymore!

A 20-year-old British college student is suing her old boarding school for $493,000, claiming the school fostered a ‘drinking culture’ that led her to get wasted and fall out a first floor window, permanently injuring herself.Amy St. Johnston attended the Oundle School, which allowed “sixth formers” like her to drink beer, cider or wine at social events sanctioned by the dorm mother. (In the UK, it is legal to drink at age 18 alone or 16 when supervised by adults.) A then-16-year-old Amy apparently partied hard, drinking a “combination of alcoholic drinks,” on the night of a Valentine’s Day dance. Both a teacher and a dorm mother who administered a Breathalyzer test witnessed Amy stumbling around drunk.

So Amy was returned to her bedroom, where she leaned (or tried to climb out?) her bedroom window and fell 15 ft to the ground below, damaging her spinal cord. Now she walks on crutches as she attends Cambridge.

It’s a terrible story and I do feel sorry for this young woman’s injuries. We’ve all done stupid things when we were drunk—and especially when we’re first learning how to hold our liquor. Amy’s lawsuit does has a point—she should not have been left alone by the adults while drunk. What if she had choked on her own vomit?

But I can’t help but think you, Amy St. Johnston, are the Kid With A Peanut Allergy—the one who ruins fun for the rest of us. What I mean is that Amy’s lawsuit says it was irresponsible for the school to leave her in a room without a window restricter. Seriously! She’s actually saying the school should have prevented her from drunkenly falling out a window.

It sucks for all the other kids who didn’t do anything wrong. For every drunk 16-year-old girl who falls out a first floor window and becomes partially paraplegic, there’s 10,000 other students who sneak out their first floor windows every night to see their girlfriends or boyfriends. That’s what teenagers do.

Even if the British judge doesn’t award Amy the nearly half-million dollars that she wants, boarding schools afraid of similar lawsuits are probably going to get stricter on students now. And that’s a damn shame. [Daily Mail]