Underage Drinking & the Law

What parents need to know now about the new Social Host Laws

MA Supreme Court rules no liability for minor hosts

John Adams Courthouse in Boston, Massachusetts...After battling six lawsuits over more than four-and-a-half years after throwing a BYOB party, a family is free from litigation by their guests. In a ruling with potential for far-reaching impact on Massachusetts’ Social Host civil statute, the state’s Supreme Judicial Court ruled against “extending a duty of care to an underage host who does not supply alcohol to underage guests, but provides a location where they are permitted to consume it.”

In other words, when Jessica Simpson (not the singer) threw a BYOB party on July 2, 2007, she avoided civil lability because she didn’t provide the alcohol. Her guests, Rachel Juliano, then 16, and her date, Christian Dunbar, then 19, drank the alcohol Dunbar provided. He drove away from the party and into a utility pole, injuring both. Juliano and her parents initiated a lawsuit against Simpson and her father.

Note that this ruling has no effect on the current criminal statutes against allowing minors to drink on your property, and its impact on civil liability is limited to minor hosts.

To learn more:

High court: Party hosts not liable for underage BYOB drinking

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Slip Opinion


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