'5873730552_7c5b584640_b' found at  by  () used under  ()
'5873730552_7c5b584640_b' found at  by  () used under  ()
'5873730552_7c5b584640_b' found at  by  () used under  ()

In Massachusetts, a social host may be held liable in for the injuries of a third-party in cases where "an intoxicated guest's negligent operation of a motor vehicle where a social host who knew or should have known that his guest was drunk, nevertheless gave him or permitted him to take an alcoholic drink and thereafter, because of his intoxication, the guest negligently operated a motor vehicle causing the third person's injury."  See McGuiggan v. New England Tel. & Tel. Co., 398 Mass. 152, 162 (1986).  In the recent case of Juliano v. Simpson, the Plaintiffs sought to expand the common law doctrine of social host liability to include  social hosts who merely provide a venue for underage guests to consume alcohol, but who do not provide nor control the alcohol at the venue.  See Juliano v. Simpson, SJC-10843, February 21, 2012.  In this case, the injured Plaintiff was a guest at a party hosted by the underage Defendant.  The Plaintiff's boyfriend, who was also a guest at the party, came to the party with a bottle of rum and a 30-pack of beer.  He consumed some of the alcohol that he brought while at the party and then left the party with the Plaintiff to drive her home.  The driver was intoxicated and struck a utility pole on his way home, injuring himself and the Plaintiff.  The Plaintiff sought to hold the host of the party liable for her injuries because she provided and controlled the location where the party was held.  The Plaintiff argued that this form of social host liability should be allowed because there is a criminal law which penalizes furnishing alcohol to minors and which includes in its definition of "furnishing," knowingly or intentionally allowing an underage person to possess alcohol on their property.  The SJC declined to accept this reasoning, noting that the criminal statute does not impose civil liability.  The SJC declined to extend liability to either underage age or of-age hosts in such a situation.  I tend to agree with Justice Gants' concurring opinion, however, which suggests reserving any decision on the liability of a of-age social host until such a case is presented.  Justice Gants noted that "it is not difficult to imagine egregious circumstances where an adult of legal drinking age encourages underage guest to 'bring your own beer or booze' to get drunk at his or her house, one whom later kills or cripples someone while driving home, that might cause us to look differently at whether we should impose liability on such an irresponsible social host."  See Id. at pg. 8.

Image credit: Cocktails by Kirti Poddar, on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons.