South Carolina Lawyer
SC Lawyer, May 2007, #5.
The Evolving Law on Social Host Liability in South Carolina
South Carolina Lawyer May 2007 The Evolving Law on Social Host Liability in South Carolina By Robert D. Robbins and Erin E. Richardson Introduction
In a February 5, 2007, opinion, the S.C. Supreme Court markedly changed the common law of the state, recognizing for the first time a common law duty regarding social host liability:
An adult social host who knowingly and intentionally serves, or causes to be served, an alcoholic beverage to a person he knows or reasonably should know is between the ages of 18 and 20 is liable to the person served and to any other person for damages proximately resulting from the host's service of alcohol.
Marcum v. Bowden, No. 26259 (S.C. Sup. Ct., Feb. 5, 2007) (Shearouse Adv. Sh. No. 5 at 31), 2007 WL 415672, at *1.
Summary of the cases bringing about the change to the common law
This change to the common law of the state came about as the result of two cases, one from Richland County and the other from Berkeley County, both of which were originally ruled on by the Supreme Court in August 2005. In Marcum v. Bowden, the Richland County case, the mother of an underage guest brought a wrongful death action against social hosts who had served her son alcohol. No. 26035 (S.C. Sup. Ct., Aug. 29, 2005) (Shearouse Adv. Sh. No. 34 at 28), withdrawn and superceded by No. 26259 (S.C. Sup. Ct., Feb. 5, 2007) (Shearouse Adv. Sh. No. 5 at 27). Donald and Gloria Bowden held a cookout and invited all of the employees of Shealy Electrical to attend. Justin Parks, a 19-year-old employee of Shealy Electrical, attended the party. The Bowdens did not take any precautionary measures to ensure that underage guests were not served alcohol. At the cookout, Parks consumed beer and several shots of tequila. After being detained for a short while by his supervisor so that he could sober up, Parks left the party in his own vehicle. Parks was subsequently killed in a one-car accident, and his mother sued the Bowdens for wrongful death.
In Barnes v. Cohen Dry Wall, Inc., the Berkeley
County case, the personal representative of a passenger killed in an accident
caused by an intoxicated underage driver sued the company that had provided
alcohol to the driver. No. 26036, (S.C. Sup. Ct., Aug. 29, 2005) (Shearouse
Adv. Sh. No. 34 at 42) withdrawn and superceded by No. 26259
(S.C. Sup. Ct. filed Feb. 5, 2007) (Shearouse Adv. Sh. No. 5 at 27). Orin
Feagin was a 19
old employee of Cohen Dry Wall...