OR Case Update: Social Host Liquor Liability: Dram Shop Limitations Apply to Party Host

From the Desk of Jeff Eberhard: For a social host or tavern to be liable under Oregon’s Dram Shop statute for injuries resulting from a patron or guest consuming alcohol, the patron or guest must have been “served or provided” alcohol while visibly intoxicated.  In the following case, the Oregon Supreme Court was tasked with determining the meaning of the term “provided,” as well as whether a host has a continuous duty to monitor the level of intoxication of a guest.  The result may surprise you….

Claims Pointer:  In this case involving the shooting death of a social host’s guest by another intoxicated guest, the Oregon Supreme Court held that there may be circumstances under which a social host who makes alcohol available to guests may be liable for injuries caused by that intoxicated guest.  Under Oregon’s Dram Shop statute, ORS 471.565, a social host can be liable for having “served or provided” alcohol to a visibly intoxicated guest.  According to the Court, liability under the statute turns on the extent to which the social host controls the supply of alcohol and how that control is exercised.  Once it is “readily observable” that the guest shows signs of visible intoxication, then the social host has a duty to deny the guest further alcoholic drinks.  However, the Court makes clear that a social host does not have a duty to continuously monitor a guest’s level of intoxication.  Instead, the duty exists only if the host is present when a visibly intoxicated guest obtains additional drinks when they are “conspicuous,” or “readily observable” by the social host as visibly intoxicated.  Additionally, “provided” may include situations where the guest pays for part of the alcohol by giving money to the host or if the host leaves out a jar for guests to contribute to the cost of the party.  Finally, although not stated in this opinion, the harm must be foreseeable.

Baker v. Croslin, 359 Or 147 (2016).


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