Alcohol poisoning case spurs new law

By Catherine Cruz
Published On: Sep 04 2013 05:00:00 PM HST

The Ah Mook Sang family learns that they can sue party host for damages in the alcohol poisoning death of their 15-year old daughter in Honolulu back in 2009.

HONOLULU -

Makamae Ah Mook Sang, who was just 15-years-old, died in the waning days of summer 2009.

It was the night after a hula performance, and just days before she was to paddle in a championship race in Hilo.

The blood alcohol level of the high schooler was four times over the legal limit-- more than her tiny frame could handle.

Those memories were brought to the surface again as her family's attorney hailed Hawaii's high court ruling.

"We hope the Supreme Court's decision sends a message to homeowners or adults that you should not be serving alcohol to minors on your property or anywhere," said Thomas Otake.

Criminal charges were levied against the then 25-year-old party host.

Under a plea deal, Michael Clark served a year in jail, and was ordered to pay out of pocket funeral expenses and a $10,000 fine.

Now, the civil suit for damages over Makamae's death can proceed.

"What we allege in the complaint is that she visibly distressed and noticeably ill that aid was not rendered or provided," Otake said.

A lower court threw out the initial lawsuit, citing a part of a law that precluded minors from suing for damages.

But the high court justices have now removed any doubt about what now will stand as new case law in Hawaii.

Makamae's mother Tracy Ah Mook Sang said Wednesday she is grateful and relieved for the ruling.

She was determined from the start that something good  come out this tragedy.

"If it’s to turn things around in this community than I trust God’s judgement," Ah Mook Sang said in an interview four years ago.

Her daughter's death spurred a campaign to spread the dangers of underage drinking--and to teach others about how to spot the signs of alcohol poisoning and more.

"She maybe could have been helped. This is a message for parents to be conscious and aware of where your children are, what they are doing. Ask the questions," Ah Mook Sang said.

 To this day, Ah Mook Sang continues to be asked by high schools to talk to students about the dangers of alcohol poisoning.

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