Guest, after having driven D (Zak) home, spent an hour or two at D's home before returning to his own home.
While there, he had two or three drinks. On his way home D was involved in a car accident with P.
P sued D for serving guest alcohol and letting him drive home drunk.
Trial court granted summary judgment for D.
Appellate court affirmed.
NJ Supreme Court reversed, reinstated the claim.
Is a social host who enables an adult guest at his home to become drunk liable to the victim of an automobile accident caused by the drunken driving of the guest?
A social host who enables an adult guest at his home to become drunk is liable to the victim of an automobile accident caused by the drunken driving of the guest.
Guest was severely intoxicated, and D must have known when he sent him home. A reasonable person in D's position could foresee quite clearly that the continued provision of alcohol was making it more and more likely that guest would not be able to operate his car carefully.
D could foresee that unless he stopped serving drinks to guest that guest was likely to injure someone as a result.
Public policy of the state dictates that the court should impose a duty in this situation.
A host who serves liquor to an adult social guest, knowing that the guest is drunk and that the guest will later drive, is liable for injuries inflicted on a third party as a result of the negligent operation of the vehicle.
This duty is imposed because the policy considerations served by its imposition far outweigh those asserted in opposition.
The Legislature is better suited to effectuate the goals of reducing injuries from drunken driving.
This imposes too high of a duty on hosts. Hosts are not proficient in figuring out who is drunk as are bartenders.
Guests can serve themselves at a party!
Bars can spread out liability with insurance, hosts cannot.
This is a minority rule. No other states follow this. Only liability if served to minors.