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Court Says Teens Not Liable Under Social Host Law

This article is more than 7 years old.

The highest court in Massachusetts has ruled that teenagers who host parties but do not supply alcohol cannot be held liable if one of their guests is hurt.

The Supreme Judicial Court ruled Tuesday in a case involving a 16-year-old girl who was left permanently brain damaged in a car accident after she left a drinking party at the home of a 19-year-old girl. The girl who was injured was a passenger in a car driven by her boyfriend, who also attended the party and drank alcohol he had brought there.

The injured girl's parents sued the 19-year-old party host.

The court rejected a request to expand the state's social host liability law by extending a "duty of care" to an underage party host who does not supply the alcohol, but provides a location where teens are permitted to drink.

"If the court had come out the other way, you would have been talking about an almost unprecedented extension of liability in Massachusetts," said David Frank, of Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly.

Frank said the court did not say how it would have ruled if an adult had been home at the time of the party.

With reporting by The Associated Press and the WBUR Newsroom

This program aired on February 21, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.

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