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John Rice
John Rice
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Party hosts escape liability for drunk-driving injuries

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A man who was uninsured when he drove while drunk caused the accident that resulted in the plaintiff’s injuries.
Further, he had no personal assets which could be used to satisfy the judgment against him. Instead, the plaintiff had to resort to suing the hosts of the party where he had consumed alcohol prior to getting into his car.

The hosts had homeowner insurance which could cover their liability in the accident. However, the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) unanimously held that social hosts had no duty of care to public users of highways. Simply providing a place where alcohol could be consumed was insufficient in creating a risk that would give rise to a duty to take positive action to stop an intoxicated guest from driving home. In this, the SCC drew a distinction between social hosts and commercial hosts, who are in a better position to observe and control the consumption of alcohol and more responsible for the creation of any risks caused by such consumption. Although the plaintiff was left a paraplegic as a result of the accident, legally, the hosts could not be held financially accountable for this.