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April 27, 2012

Hosting a Party? You Could be Liable

Hosting an NHL playoff party? A birthday or grad celebration? Did you know that if one of your guests consumes alcohol and causes an accident, you could be held liable for injuries and damages?

The Province reports an Alberta couple, Mr. and Mrs. Gray, allowed their teenage son to host a party where they knew that underage drinking would occur. Two intoxicated teenagers at the party got into a fight a block away from the house. As one of the teenagers left in his car he accidentally or intentionally hit the other teen with his car. The teen’s father sued the Grays claiming they were responsible. In Desanti v. Gray, the judge said the Grays were not responsible as they were unaware of the argument and fight. 

But there are situations where a social host can be found liable. In the case of Childs v. Desormeaux, the Supreme Court of Canada said that if a host serves alcohol to a guest who is under the influence of alcohol when they know or suspect that their guest will be driving intoxicated after the party, the host could be responsible for any injuries to an innocent victim.

So if you do have a party, don’t take unnecessary risks. Be attentive to your guests and their behaviours and don’t let them get out of control. And parents, don’t let your underage kids drink. 

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Author - James Buckley

James was part of the team of lawyers who joined Tony and Mike at the start up of Slater Vecchio LLP in 1998. James has only ever practiced in the area of plaintiff’s personal injury law.