R.G., Port Washington, New York
SO IF I'M in the room when someone breaks something, you think I have an obligation to cover repairs? Why not anybody in the building? On the campus? In the state?
The person who spilled the beverage onto the laptop is responsible for his own actions. But his silence does not shift his duty to whoever happened to be standing nearby.
Had this accident been caused by general, party-wide horseplay, or if, say, collective foot stompin' and hand clappin' shook the laptop onto the floor, then I would urge all present to chip inbut that was not the case.
If the other partygoers know who did the damage, they should tell your son. It would be wrong for friendsand gueststo withhold such information from one of their own. Incidentally, insurance covers contingencies like your son's; he might want to invest in some.
UPDATE: Technicians were able to repair the computer without replacing the motherboard.
(The New York Times Upfront, Vol. 143, January 31, 2011)