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The court holds that common law liquor liability shall not be extended to the purely social host, except in cases involving a breach of a statutory duty
Appellant guests attended a reception at the country club attended by appellee hosts. Appellant guests’ own driver became intoxicated at the reception and injured them while driving home. The appellant guests instituted an action under common-law negligence and the Dram Shop Act, Ind. Code § 7.1-5-10-15.5 against the appellees, hosts and country club. The trial court granted summary judgment to all appellees. Appellant guests challenged the decision.
Under the circumstances, could the appellees be held liable under the Dram Shop Act and for common-law negligence?
The court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court that granted the hosts and country club's motions for summary judgment in the guests' action under the Dram Shop Act and for common-law negligence. The court held that the fact that the reception was held at the country club did not automatically impose a duty upon it to supervise the guests' alcohol consumption. The county club did not provide or serve beer from the kegs brought onto its premises; it was simply the place where the reception was held and was not the active means by which the driver obtained the beer. Moreover, the hosts did not conduct nor supervise the reception; their only contribution was to provide the deposit money for the beer keg, which was too remote to be considered "furnishing" the beer as defined by the statute. The court further held that because the parties stipulated that the driver was not visibly intoxicated at the party, liability under the statute did not attach. In the absence of the violation of any statute, the court refused to find common-law negligence.