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SOCIAL HOST LIABILILTY IN MASSACHUSETTS

November 14, 2012

SOCIAL HOST LIABILILTY IN MASSACHUSETTS

A Discussion of  Juliano v Simpson and Where the Court is Going

Okay you are away on vacation. Your two children Drinka and Lotti decide to have a few dozen friends over for a “BYOB ”  party . One of the guests Soucy   becomes inebriated and attempts to drive home . On the way   home  he goes through a red light crashing into a vehicle in which are a family of five . The result —  Two Fatalities.  Are the parents liable to the injured parties?

Under current  Massachusetts  law NO because the parents “social hosts” did not supply the alcohol .

Now what if the parents were leaving when they saw all the guests coming to their house with kegs and six-packs etc .  Still NO because they did not supply the alcohol .

The Massachusetts Supreme Court has refused to expand “social host”  liability   In part due to a lack of consensus regarding “social values and customs” as evidenced by the State Legislature’s reluctance to pass a statute allowing civil remedy .

However   one judge in her opinion concurring with the result but dissenting with the reasoning in the Juliano   case , has suggested in the future, given the proper factual scenario, a  parent /homeowner ought to be held liable in a situation where they knowingly make their home available to drink alcohol [example #2 above ]  even if the Legislature has failed to take the initiative.

To be certain you are not the test case  it behooves parents not to turn  a blind eye to alcohol   being served in their home  .

 

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