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Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 138, § 34 (1984) prohibits the delivery of any alcoholic beverages or alcohol to an underage person.
Plaintiff injured party was hurt in a motor vehicle accident caused by the driver's negligence. The driver, a minor, had been drinking beer at a party given by the parent's daughter. The parent had given permission to her daughter to have the party but did not give permission for the consumption of alcoholic beverages, nor did she keep any at her home. The driver obtained the beer from another guest. The injured party argued that the parent should have known that alcoholic beverages would be available and proposed a form of social host liability for the injuries she sustained. Summary judgment was granted in favor of the parent. Plaintiff appealed.
Under the circumstances, could the parent be held liable for the injuries sustained by the plaintiff?
On appeal, the court affirmed the trial court's decision, holding that the parent, who neither provided the alcoholic beverages nor made them available, did not owe a duty to travelers on the highway to supervise a party given by her minor child. The court reached the conclusion that, even if the parent knew or reasonably should have known that alcoholic beverages would be available, the parent did not create a risk of harm to the injured party for which the court was prepared to say the common law should have provided a remedy.