If you are going to host a house party with 120 or so attendees, one way to limit your liability is to fail to check IDs. This is the apparent take away from the Colorado Supreme Court’s decision announced today in Przekurat v. Torres, 2018CO69.
The case involved life altering injuries sustained by the passenger in a vehicle driven by a twenty-year-old man after being served alcohol at a house party. The driver and passenger had attended the party with a third individual, and the party’s host had greeted the three by saying to the third individual that “I don’t really know these other people, but I know you.” No IDs were apparently checked, and after a night of drinking, the three were involved in a single vehicle rollover crash around 2 a.m. that night.
The injured party argued that “constructive knowledge” – that someone should have known – should be enough to establish social host liability for serving alcohol to a minor under Colorado’s Dram Shop Act, C.R.S. 12-47-801. However, the Dram Shop Act places significant limits on the liability of alcohol vendors, including social hosts, to third parties injured by drinkers they have served. In the case of social hosts, the Dram Shop Act places liability only on social hosts who “knowingly” provide individuals under age twenty-one with alcohol or a place to drink. The Colorado Supreme Court has now held that “knowingly” requires actual knowledge, and it is not enough to show that a social host had constructive knowledge that minors were in attendance at their event.