Baker v. Croslin

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Tort Law
  • Date Filed: 07-09-2014
  • Case #: A151932
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Lagesen, J. for the Court; Duncan, P.J.; & Wollheim, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

Under ORS 471.565, the key factor in assessing a social host's liability is how much control the host had over the consumption of alcohol; when a host has no control over alcohol consumption, he is not liable.

Three men – Baker, Croslin, and Smith—were watching the NBA finals and began playing with guns after consuming many alcoholic beverages. All thought the guns were unloaded, but Smith forgot he had put a bullet in his. Smith fired a live round and killed Baker. Baker's widow sued Smith and Croslin for damages. She alleged that Croslin had served alcohol to the men even past the point of visible intoxication. Croslin moved for summary judgment, which the trial court granted. Baker’s widow appealed. The Court held the key factor in assessing a social host's liability is how much control the host had over supplying the alcohol and how visible the intoxication was, and this determination was for the trier of fact. There were signs Smith was visibly intoxicated and Baker was prepared to offer experts to testify as to his blood alcohol levels and what those would indicate. Under these circumstances, there were genuine issues of material fact and the court should not have granted a motion for summary judgment. Furthermore, Croslin could also be held for negligently encouraging intoxicated persons to engage in dangerous behavior. Reversed and remanded.

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