Drinking and driving. The dangers are widely known but the problem persists. It’s something we all need to be conscious of when attending events where alcohol may be served. Accidents caused by impaired drivers can have devastating consequences on all involved. In 2006, the Supreme Court of Canada weighed in on one such case and the decision has had important implications for condominium residents since that time.
The events giving rise to the case were tragic. A couple hosted a new year’s eve party at their house. It was a “BYOB” event– bring your own booze. One of the guests drank excessively. The hosts were not aware he was impaired, nor was there evidence that they had served him drinks. Shortly after midnight, the guest left the party and was in a head-on collision with another vehicle carrying four people. One of those passengers was killed and the other three were seriously injured. Of those three passengers, Zoe Childs, was left paralyzed from the waist down. The guest was convicted of various criminal offences and received a sentence of ten years. Ms. Childs sued the guest, as well as the two hosts of the party. The Supreme Court denied Ms. Childs’ claim against the two hosts, deciding that as a general rule, the host of a private party where alcohol is served (referred to as “social host” in legal terms) is not liable to a member of the public for injuries caused by a guest, unless the host was actively involved in creating or contributing to the event that caused the injury (the Court was clear that simply hosting a party where alcohol is served was insufficient in this regard).
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