Sunday, February 3, 2013

Graff v. Beard case brief

Graff v. Beard
858 S.W.2d 918
Tort Law
PROCEDURAL POSTURE: Appellant hosts of a party filed an application for writ of error based on the decision of the Court of Appeals for the Fourth District of Texas, which reversed the trial court's dismissal of appellee injured driver's claims and held that the hosts could be liable to third parties for the acts of their intoxicated adult guests.

-Appellee injured driver brought a claim against appellant hosts after a guest at the hosts' party became intoxicated, drove, and injured appellee.
-The trial court dismissed the claim for failure to state a cause of action on which relief could be granted.
-The court of appeals reversed and held that appellants were liable to appellee for the act of their intoxicated guest. Appellants filed an application for writ of error and the court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals.

The court held that there was no common law duty on a social host who made alcohol available at a party to a guest who the host knew would drive.


The court determined that the legislature had declined to make a social host so accountable and therefore it would not create such a duty either. The court decided that it was far from clear that a social host could reliably recognize a guest's level of intoxication and that guests may not respond to a host's attempts to prevent the guests from driving. The court held that the drinker was the person responsible for his own behavior and therefore appellants were not responsible for appellee's injuries.

In the absence of a relationship between the parties giving rise to the right of control, one person is under no legal duty to control the conduct of another, even if there exists the practical ability to do so.

OUTCOME: The court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals because the common law's focus was on the drinker as the person primarily responsible for his own behavior; the court did not impose a duty on a social host who made alcohol available to an adult who the host knew would be driving.

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