Understanding Mass. Social Host Liability Laws
Here’s a familiar scenario: A teenager goes to a party, drinks heavily and drives away under the influence. Then, every parent’s worst nightmare comes true — the teen dies in a car crash. Who is liable?
The answer is, “It depends.”
Massachusetts law is clear on a few things. If the young person was at an adult’s house, and the adult furnished the alcohol, the adult is indeed liable, according to the state’s “social host” liability laws.
But what if the party didn’t take place in someone’s home? What if the underage drinker had been with thousands of other people on commercial party? Who would be liable then?
To discuss Mass. social liability laws, Radio Boston is joined by two Boston lawyers.
- Richard Campbell, founder of the Campbell, Campbell, Edwards and Conroy law firm in Boston and former president of the Massachusetts Bar Association. He argued the last major social host liability case Massachusetts, Juliano v. Simpson, ruled on by the Supreme Judicial Court.
- Joe Desmond, civil defense lawyer at Morrison Mahoney law firm in Boston
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