Company not liable for employee’s drunk-driving accident

A nursing home supervisor took the home’s chef out for drinks after work one night in order to discuss work-related issues. The two had a fair amount to drink. The chef left the restaurant in his car and shortly afterward struck a 70-year-old pedestrian, who suffered serious injuries. The pedestrian sued the nursing home, claiming that it was responsible for the chef’s drinking.

But the state Appeals Court shot down the lawsuit in a 2-1 decision. Under Massachusetts law, a social host can sometimes be held responsible if a guest drinks and then drives. But the court said this is true only if the host controls the supply of alcohol, which wasn’t the case here. The pedestrian argued that the nursing home controlled the employee, and the employee wouldn’t have gone drinking if it wasn’t expected of him by his boss. But the court said there was a difference between controlling the liquor supply and controlling the person consuming it.

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