June 26, 2020

Bill Dick, Q.C., was recently asked for comment, by The Lawyer’s Daily, on the latest decision from the BC Supreme Court that rejected a social host liability claim. The decision in McCormack v. Plambeck, 2020 BCSC 881, involved a fatal car crash that occurred after a birthday party hosted by the parents of teenagers. A claim based on social host liability was brought by a party guest, injured in the crash, against the parent hosts who had allowed alcohol to be served at the party. A complicating factor was that the teenage driver had stolen the vehicle involved in the crash. The driver tragically died at the scene, and the plaintiff, in this case, sustained severe life-altering injuries.

The court rejected the plaintiff’s claim on the basis that his injuries were not reasonably foreseeable. The court found that the standard of care did not require perfection and anticipating all possibilities and risks. While the decision has insurers breathing a sigh of relief, social host liability cases are fact-driven. As Bill pointed out, the right set of circumstances may well produce a different result. In this case, several factors may have contributed to the decision, including:

  • Efforts by the parents to confiscate car keys and check in on party guests; and
  • The teens involved in the fatal crash had arrived at the party on foot, where not intoxicated at the time of the crash, and the driver had stolen the car involved.

Read the full article HERE.

Disclaimer: This article was originally published by The Lawyer’s Daily (www.thelawyersdaily.ca), part of LexisNexis Canada Inc.

If you are considering hosting a grad party for your child you may also want to review Know the Limits: Teen Grad Parties and Social Host Liability, which includes a link to a summary of the presentation that Bill gave to parents during the 2019 grad season.

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