Baker v. Croslin

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Tort Law
  • Date Filed: 04-21-2016
  • Case #: S062571
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Landau, J. for the Court; Balmer, C.J.; Kistler, J.; Walters, J.; Baldwin, J.; Brewer, J.; & Nakamoto, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

A person licensed by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, holding a permit from the commission, or social host is not liable for damages caused by intoxicated patrons or guests unless the plaintiff proves by clear and convincing evidence that the licensee, permittee, or social host served alcohol to the patron while visibly intoxicated.

Defendant appealed a decision of the Court of Appeals, which found that he was liable for the death of a partygoer after providing alcohol while the partygoer was already visibly intoxicated. Defendant hosted a party where two guests became intoxicated and were horsing around with a loaded handgun. At some point, one of the guests was killed. Subsequently, Defendant was sued by a representative of the decedent who asserted that Defendant was liable for the death because he “served or provided” alcohol to the shooter while the shooter was “visibly intoxicated.” The Court of Appeals found that Defendant was liable because he was in "control" of the alcohol and therefore "served or provided" the alcohol to decedent in violation of ORS 471.565(2). On review, Defendant argued that the Court of Appeals erred in equating “served or provided” alcohol, with having some sort of abstract “control” over the availability of drinks based on the host having made alcohol available. He further argued, that he had no control over the alcohol consumed by decedent because Defendant had been paid earlier in the night for the alcohol by decedent. The Court agreed with the Court of Appeals because evidence of payment does not establish as a matter of law that Defendant did not initially serve or provide the alcohol to decedent, since there was also evidence that the alcohol was bought for the others to consumer while at the house party. Affirmed.

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