It also sounds tougher now to get reimbursed if this guy doesn't have the money to pay and his parents won't be held liable.
I think the way the courts go about payment differs between the states. In my state, if the defendant has not paid the awarded sum in thirty days after the hearing, his wages could be garnished, bank accounts accessed, or personal property (ie car, boat, etc.) could be confiscated to pay the plantiff.
I'm currently in the same position. My roommate paid less than $200 on all bills over the course of the year and now that the lease is up, he thinks because the bills are in my name that it's my problem. If the all people occupying the home agree on bill payment, that is an oral contract. I've been told that judges usually side with the plantiff on these cases.