Super Bowl parties have become a stalwart American tradition, as millions enjoy the biggest game of the year at an afternoon viewing party complete with buffalo wings, chili, and, perhaps most likely, plentiful amounts of booze. If you are hosting a party at your house, inviting minors, and planning to serve alcohol, we recommend avoiding any potential liability by following these guidelines.
Adults Serving Alcohol to Minors at Home
For many years, Courts in California have ruled that the consumption of alcohol itself, not the serving of alcohol, is the proximate cause of a drunk-driving related accident. Thus, laws imposing liability on commercial providers of alcohol are very limited. California Civil Code §1714(c) applies the same reasoning to private individuals who serve alcohol at their residences. Specifically addressing the potential liability of social hosts, the statute provides that “no social host who furnishes alcoholic beverages to any person may be held legally accountable for damages suffered by that person, or for injury to the person or property of, or death of, any third person, resulting from the consumption of those beverages.”
However, in 2011 the Legislature enacted California Civil Code §1714(d), which states that an adult social host who knowingly serves alcohol to a minor at his or her residence, may be held liable for any injuries resulting from the minor’s intoxication:
(1) Nothing in subdivision (c) shall preclude a claim against a parent, guardian, or another adult who knowingly furnishes alcoholic beverages at his or her residence to a person whom he or she knows, or should have known, to be under 21 years of age, in which case, notwithstanding subdivision (b), the furnishing of the alcoholic beverage may be found to be the proximate cause of resulting injuries or death.
(2) A claim under this subdivision may be brought by, or on behalf of, the person under 21 years of age or by a person who was harmed by the person under 21 years of age.
With this law in mind, The Zwerdling Law Firm, LLP would like to alert adult Super Bowl party hosts that serving alcohol to those under 21 years of age is not only illegal, but may also expose the host to serious liability if that intoxicated minor injures or kill somebody else or themselves. If you are hosting a party that serves alcohol and includes minors, make sure to take precautions that ensure minors are not consuming alcohol at your home.
Minors Serving Alcohol to other Minors at a Party
In 2014, the California Supreme Court held that a minor social host who charges money for alcohol served at their party to another minor, may be held liable for injuries caused by the intoxicated minor. Ennabe v. Manosa, 58 Cal. 4th. 697. In this case, the underage host charged other underage guests a fee in exchange for entrance to her party, which included easy access to alcohol. The court determined that the party host was essentially operating a “pop-up nightclub” and the entrance fee constituted a “sale” of alcohol under Business & Professional Code Sections 23025 and 25602.1. Therefore, the host “was potentially liable” for any injuries caused by an underage partygoer’s intoxication.
In conclusion, we would like to remind social hosts at any occasion (beyond Sunday’s game) to be responsible and refrain from serving alcohol to those not of legal age. While a host’s main goal is generally to make sure guests are having a good time, being alert and careful will go a long way to protecting not only yourself, but the community at large.