By: Alex Olivares
The California Supreme Court decided last month that hosts charging entrance fees and serving alcohol at their house parties are liable for any injury or harm caused by their intoxicated guests.
At Jessica Manosa’s party in Diamond Bar seven years ago, guest Thomas Garcia became belligerent and was subsequently kicked out, reported The Los Angeles Times. Garcia drove away, striking Andrew Ennabe, who sustained injuries and died one week later. Instead of only suing Garcia for manslaughter, Ennabe’s family also went after Manosa, alleging that she is liable for her drunken guest’s behavior that night because she charged him for entrance.
The Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control defines the sale of alcoholic beverages as any transaction granting privilege to spirited drinks.
The California Business and Profession Code makes it illegal to maintain an area for the purpose of alcohol consumption without a license if sales are made to facilitate drinking, “[which includes] cover charge.”
This not only regards Manosa’s house party as against the law, it frames what sales of alcohol are without expressing that profit must be made from such sales.
The issue of profit is not addressed because terrible business decisions should not excuse anyone from the law, said Amer Innabi, the attorney representing Ennabe’s family. Critics of the ruling may agree that Manosa sold alcohol to Garcia without agreeing that she is liable for his actions. To dismiss her of responsibility is to ignore established California Civil Code precedent. The code holds a host culpable if they provide alcohol to minors causing injury or death.
When guests were allowed to have a drink at her event, Manosa, as the hosting adult, agreed to be held liable for their actions under state law.
The California Supreme Court made a common sense decision and should be praised for their intent to increase safety for young partygoers.
“We hope it prevents and deters illegal acts because people are getting hurt and some are dying,” said Innabi. The ruling raises awareness that hosts can help prevent tragic stories like Ennabe’s. On the opposite end of someone drinking alcohol is someone serving alcohol. Servers must then be vigilant of, and responsible for, potentially deadly consequences.