MA High Court: No Social Host Liability for Teens who host BYOB Party but do not Supply Alcohol

In the case of Juliano v Simpson in February 2012 the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial court ruled  that an underage host who does not supply alcohol to underage guests but hosts a party cannot be liable as a result of personal injury caused by a car accident  The MASS. Top Court stated “that liability attaches only where a social host either serves alcohol or exercises effective control over the supply of alcohol.”

Read the Juliano v Simpson Case Here

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court set out the facts as follows: “Sixteen year old Rachel Juliano suffered serious injuries when the automobile in which she was a passenger struck a utility pole. She and the driver of the automobile, nineteen year old Christian Dunbar, had just left a party hosted by the defendant, nineteen year old Jessica A. Simpson, where Dunbar consumed alcoholic beverages he had obtained earlier that evening and brought to Jessica’s house. Jessica’s father, Peter Simpson, was not home at the time of the party, leaving Jessica in sole control of the premises.”

The SJC later set out more pertinent facts:

Over the course of the evening, Dunbar consumed one or two mixed drinks and six or seven of the cans of beer that he had brought to the party. Jessica drank beer as well, from a supply that she had obtained earlier. Although there were some alcoholic beverages belonging to Peter in the house, Jessica neither consumed those beverages nor offered them to her guests. Jessica stayed in the company of her guests throughout the evening. At one point, an uninvited attendee began to engage in antagonistic behavior toward her, pouring beer onto the floor inside the house; Jessica ordered him to leave, and he did.

Sometime before 11 p.m., Dunbar and Juliano began to argue outside the house. They were loud enough to draw the attention of several guests, as well as Jessica, who went out to investigate. Juliano pushed Dunbar, and a friend of his intervened, removing Dunbar to another part of the property while Jessica spoke alone with Juliano. Soon afterward, Juliano and Dunbar prepared to leave the party. Concerned that Dunbar was still upset from the argument and that Juliano had consumed too much alcohol to drive, Jessica proposed that she drive the two home. Juliano agreed not to drive herself, but Dunbar insisted that he take Juliano home. At approximately 11 p.m., Dunbar and Juliano left the Simpson residence with Dunbar driving. Shortly thereafter, the automobile struck a utility pole, causing injuries to both Dunbar and Juliano.”

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