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Should party hosts be liable for alcohol-related legal incidents?

by AirTalk®

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A University of Georgia student pours a beer into a funnel during spring break March 12, 2008 on South Beach in Miami Beach, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

A case before the California Supreme Court will soon decide whether party hosts can be held responsible in alcohol suits. The case follows the death of an inebriated 19-year-old student,  who was hit and killed by a drunk driver after a house party.

The host, then-20-year-old Jessica Manosa, threw the party at her parents rental home without their permission -- the victim’s parents are now suing the Manosa’s via their homeowners insurance for liability in their son’s death.

California law has long protected party hosts in alcohol related suits. Social hosts are exempt from liability, but people who sell alcohol can be held responsible in a lawsuit. In the Manosa case, the determining factor may be the money paid by partygoers.

A trial and appeals court both decided that because Manosa did not intend to profit from alcohol sales and was only attempting to defray the costs of alcohol she could not be held legally liable. 


James Mosher, Senior Project Director at The CDM Group Inc., a consulting firm whose research includes alcohol policy and laws in all 50 states

Gary Watt, Appellate attorney with Archer Norris - a law firm with offices throughout California

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