An "underage" adult, over the age of 18 but under the age of 21, who hosts other underage individuals and permits them to consume alcohol before driving drunk, can be held liable under the common law for foreseeable injuries to others.
This case involved a twenty year old host who permitted two other underage individuals, who had illicitly acquired alcohol from a local convenience store, to consume said alcohol at his parents' house where they became drunk and subsequently drove a motor vehicle. The two drunk individuals were involved in a motor vehicle accident resulting in the death of one of them. The decedent's estate sued the underage host seeking to hold him liable for a foreseeable personal injury.
The NJ Supreme Court created a new rule relying heavily on past precedent including case and statutory law. This new rule is as follows:
"A plaintiff injured by an intoxicated underage social guest may succeed in a cause of action against an underage social host if the plaintiff can prove by a preponderance of the evidence the following: (1) The social host knowingly permitted and facilitated the consumption of alcoholic beverages to underage guests in a residence under his control. This element does not require that the social host be a leaseholder or titleholder to the property. It is enough that the social host has the ability and apparent authority to give others access to the property; (2) The social host knowingly provided alcohol to a visibly intoxicated underage guest or knowingly permitted the visibly intoxicated underage guest to serve himself or be served by others. It is no defense that the underage guests bought and brought the alcoholic beverages that they or others consumed; (3) The social host knew or reasonably should have known that the visibly intoxicated social guest would leave the premises and operate a motor vehicle and therefore would foreseeably endanger the lives and property of others; (4) The social host did not take any reasonable steps to prevent the intoxicated guest from getting behind the wheel of the vehicle; and (5) The social guest, as a result of intoxication facilitated by the social host, negligently operated a vehicle and proximately caused injury to a third party."
In summary, if you are an adult and allow people to gather in a place which is "under your control", where knowing consumption of alcohol occurs, and someone over-consumes the alcohol to the point of obvious intoxication, then drives away, and you do not try to stop them, you can be held civilly liable to an injured plaintiff. (Estate of Brandon Tyler Narleski v. Nicholas Gomes)
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Peter J. Vazquez, Jr.