Weekly Law Resume - June 20, 2013: Strict Interpretation: Declining To Extend Liability Under Civil Code Section 1714

by Low, Ball & Lynch

Adam Rybicki, et al. v. Ashley Carlson, et al.
Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District (May 22, 2013)

California Civil Code section 1714 immunizes from civil liability an individual who provides alcohol to another who, due to intoxication, subsequently is injured or injures a third party. However, there is one specific exception to this immunity: for an adult who knowingly furnishes alcohol at his or her residence to an individual who is known to be, or should have been known to be, under 21 years old. This case considers the applicability of this statute to individuals who allegedly conspired with, or aided and abetted, an adult who knowingly furnished alcohol to someone under the age of 21.

Civil Code section 1714 was enacted in 1978 to reinstate a common law rule in California that had existed until 1971. In 1971, the California Supreme Court held that a commercial vendor who sold alcohol to an obviously intoxicated person could be held liable for injuries caused by that person. See Veseley v. Sager (1971) 5 Cal.3d 153. Subsequent decisions by the California Supreme Court extended this doctrine to include non-commercial providers of alcohol such as social hosts. See Coulter v. Superior Court (1978) 21 Cal.3d 144, 149. Section 1714 explicitly abrogates these cases, with the exception mentioned above, on the theory that it is the consumption of alcohol, and not the furnishing of that alcohol, that is the proximate cause of such injuries.

On April 2, 2011, five young women, all under the age of 21 and each of whom had been drinking, got into a car after partying all night at the house of a friend, Garrett Shoemaker. At 7:15 a.m., one of the women, Jaclyn Garcia, was driving on the wrong side of the road when she struck plaintiff/appellant Adam Rybicki, who was riding his bicycle. Mr. Rybicki suffered serious injuries and brought suit, along with his wife, against Ms. Garcia, the other four women in the car (hereinafter “respondents”), and Mr. Shoemaker.

In the complaint, Mr. Rybicki and his wife alleged that Mr. Shoemaker knowingly furnished alcohol to the under aged Ms. Garcia at his residence, and that respondents conspired with Mr. Shoemaker and/or aided, abetted, and assisted him in providing her with alcohol. Indeed, it was alleged that the respondents went to a retail establishment, solicited adults to purchase alcohol for them, and brought that alcohol to Mr. Shoemaker’s residence, where he then furnished it to Ms. Garcia.

Three of the respondents filed demurrers, while the fourth filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings, each arguing that they were immune from liability under section 1714. The trial court sustained each of the demurrers without leave to amend and granted the motion for judgment on the pleadings. Plaintiffs filed a notice of appeal from these judgments. The question on appeal was whether the four women who were not driving, but were present in the car and alleged to have supplied some of the alcohol consumed, could be held liable for Mr. Rybicki’s injuries.

Taking up this question, the Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District affirmed the judgments of the trial court, and held that section 1714(d) cannot be used to “bootstrap” respondents into liability. Looking closely at the language of the statute, the Court determined the key fact was that respondents were not alleged to have furnished alcohol to Ms. Garcia at their residences. Although respondents may have obtained the alcohol and provided it to Mr. Shoemaker, it was only furnished at his residence. Thus, respondents did not fit the exception outlined in section 1714(d) and the consumption of the alcohol by Ms. Garcia acted as an intervening cause to plaintiffs’ injuries.


This case narrowly construes the exception to Civil Code section 1714, restricting liability to an adult who, at his or her residence, knowingly furnishes alcohol to someone under the age of 21. Those who conspire with, or aid and abet that individual are immune to civil liability if the alcohol was not furnished at their residence.

For a copy of the complete decision see:


DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Low, Ball & Lynch | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Low, Ball & Lynch

Low, Ball & Lynch on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.