Tag Archive | Host Liability

Maryland High Court Introduces Civil Liability for Adults Who Allow Underage Drinking

By Derek M. Stikeleather

This week, the Maryland Court of Appeals, in Kiriakos v. Phillips, punched a large hole in a civil-law doctrine that has long protected adults who host parties where underage guests are allowed to drink alcohol. While it has long been illegal to sell or otherwise supply alcohol to minors, Maryland law has nonetheless rejected attempts to assign civil liability to those who provide alcohol to minors when the inebriated minors injure themselves or others. Although minors who consume alcohol frequently cause horrific – often fatal – accidents (or commit serious felonies), Maryland tort law has traditionally assigned liability for the injuries to those who consumed the alcohol while shielding the individuals or businesses that furnished the alcohol. But, recognizing the special vulnerability of minors to alcohol, the Court now holds that adults who “knowingly and willfully” allow underage guests to drink on their property and substantially contribute to the minor’s diminished ability to reason can be found liable for the harm that results from a drunken guest’s subsequent actions. Read More…