The parents of a Kingsville man who was killed after he left a golf club party drunk in August 1990 have sued the Hunt Valley Golf Club for $1 million, claiming employees of the club should have stopped the young man from driving himself home.
Charles S. Sewell III, a 19-year-old pro shop employee at the Hunt Valley Golf Club, was so drunk when he left the club's annual "Calcutta" party on Aug. 18, 1990, that he drove his car into a tree at 98 mph, according to a police report and the lawsuit, filed this week in Baltimore County Circuit Court.
Mr. Sewell, who had worked at the club for four years, was flown to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, where he died of his injuries 11 days later.
The suit seeks $1 million in compensatory damages under several theories of recovery -- negligence, wrongful death, loss of companionship and breach of contract.
The annual "Calcutta" party, the suit charges, "was notorious for the excessive drinking that went on, the gambling on the next day's golf scores and other illicit activities."
At one point near the end of the party, the suit charges, two members of the club noticed Charles Sewell's apparent drunken condition and offered to give him a ride home.
But, according to the suit, Charles W. Lopez, a club employee, assured the two members that he would see to getting Mr. Sewell safely home.
Nevertheless, Mr. Sewell drove himself from the party. He lost control of his 1987 Toyota SR-5 as he was driving east on Sweet Air Road, near Green Road, and the car struck a tree, according to a police report.
According to the suit, an oral contract was created by Mr. Lopez and the club when the employee promised two members that he would assure Mr. Sewell's safety, and the contract was subsequently breached. The club also assumed a duty to care for Mr. Sewell, and that also was breached, according to the plaintiffs.
"The act that we find so outrageous," said Joanne L. Suder, the Sewells' attorney, "is the fact that two outstanding members of the community offered to see to the safety of this kid; and the club, through its manager, actively discouraged them by assuring them that they would see to his safety.
"Had they not done that," Ms. Suder continued. "Charles would be alive today. Instead, he suffered one of the most painful and agonizing deaths possible."
Ms. Suder declined to identify the two club members who offered to take Charles Sewell home.
Brian S. Goodman, an attorney for Hunt Valley Golf Club, said the club denies the charges in the suit and will vigorously defend against it.
"This was obviously a tragic event. "But that doesn't mean that the club is responsible. . . . The allegations are just that, allegations. And they are simply not true. The club and its employees were not negligent."