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Social Host Liability

By Loren E. Laskoski, Esq.

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In Massachusetts, a social host can be held liable for injuries caused by a guest or guests of an event where alcohol was made available or served.  In February of this year the Supreme Judicial Court addressed the issue of social host liability in the case of Juliano v. Simpson and refused to find that an underage host owed a duty to third parties when the host did not provide alcohol, but provided a place where alcohol could be consumed.  The Court reaffirmed that liability attaches when one serves alcohol or exercises control over the supply of alcohol. Juliano v. Simpson, 461 Mass. 527 (2012).

This week the issue of social host liability was once again in the headlines when a judge in Norfolk Superior Court heard oral arguments in a case against The Kraft Group, owner of the New England Patriots and Gillette Stadium.  The case arises from a fatal car accident which occurred in 2008 after a day of tailgating at the New England Country Festival held in Foxboro.  The Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment seeking to have the case against them dismissed in accordance with the Supreme Judicial Court’s ruling in Juliano.  In opposing the motion, the Plaintiff’s attorney argued that by allowing underage drinking to occur in their parking lots, the Defendants essentially furnished alcohol, and should be held liable under a theory of social host liability.

An interesting article discussing this case can be found at:  http://www.wbur.org/2012/11/20/kraft-gillette-social-host-law

The law on social host liability in the Commonwealth is complex and cases are often dependant on the facts and circumstances giving rise to the accident.  If you or someone you know has been injured, the attorneys at Keches Law Group are available for consultation.

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