Tort Action for Sale of Habit-Forming Drug to a Minor Child

Criminal Law & Procedure: Criminal Offenses: Controlled Substances: Delivery, Distribution & Sale

Family Law: Parental Duties & Rights: Care & Control of Children

A person who unlawfully sells or supplies a habit-forming drug to a minor child may be liable to the child's parent for damages. The person is liable to the parent if the parent incurred a loss of the child's services or if the parent incurred medical expenses on behalf of the child as a result of the sale of the habit-forming drug.

In order for a person to be liable to a parent for selling a habit-forming drug to the parent's child, the person must have known that the habit-forming drug would be used by the child in a manner that would be injurious to the child. The child does not have to be addicted to the habit-forming drug at the time of the sale. The parent only needs to show that the person knew that the child would use the habit-forming drug merely because it was a habit-forming drug. However, if the person sold the habit-forming drug in accordance with a valid prescription, the person is not liable to the parent.

In order for a parent to recover damages for the sale of a habit-forming drug to his or her child, the parent must be legally entitled to the child's services. The parent may also be entitled to recover damages for any reasonable medical expenses that he or she incurs on behalf of the child. Such reasonable medical expenses include treatment to cure the child of his or her drug addiction. The parent may be entitled to recover future medical expenses if he or she can prove that he or she is under a legal duty to provide future medical care on behalf of the child.

Statutes that provide a cause of action for the sale of a habit-forming drug to a minor child do not generally apply to the sale of intoxicating liquors to a child. This is because that most states have separate statutes that forbid the sale of intoxicating liquors to minors and that provide a cause of action on behalf of a parent for the sale of intoxicating liquors to a child.

Copyright 2012 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.