BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  AB 1407
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          CONCURRENCE IN SENATE AMENDMENTS
          AB 1407 (Judiciary Committee)
          As Amended June 27, 2011
          Majority vote 
           
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          |ASSEMBLY:  |     |(May 19, 2011)  |SENATE: |37-0 |(July 14,      |
          |           |     |                |        |     |2011)          |
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               (vote not relevant)

          Original Committee Reference:    JUD.  

           SUMMARY  :  Makes a couple of technical clarifications of 
          California's social host liability statute which provides that a 
          claim may be brought against an adult who knowingly furnishes 
          alcohol at his or her residence to a person under 21 years of 
          age.  

           The Senate amendments  delete the Assembly version of this bill, 
          and instead in this non-controversial committee bill:

          1)Clarify the definition of knowledge in the bill such that a 
            responsible adult must be shown to have known, or to should 
            have known, that the person being served alcohol is under age 
            21.

          2)Clarify that a claim under the statute can be brought by, or 
            on behalf of, a minor or a person who was harmed by that 
            minor.
           
          EXISTING LAW  :

          1)Provides that everyone is responsible, not only for the result 
            of his or her willful acts, but also for an injury occasioned 
            to another by his or her want of ordinary care or skill in the 
            management of his or her property or person, except so far as 
            the latter has, willfully or by want of ordinary care, brought 
            the injury upon himself or herself.

          2)Provides that it is the intent of the Legislature to abrogate 
            the holdings in cases such as Vesely v. Sager (1971) 5 Cal.3d 
            153, Bernhard v. Harrah's Club (1976) 16 Cal.3d 313, and 
            Coulter v. Superior Court (1978) 21 Cal.3d 144 and to 
            reinstate the prior judicial interpretation of Civil Code 








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            Section 1714 as it relates to the proximate cause for injuries 
            incurred as a result of furnishing alcoholic beverages to an 
            intoxicated person, namely that the furnishing of alcoholic 
            beverages is not the proximate cause of injuries resulting 
            from intoxication, but rather the consumption of alcoholic 
            beverages is the proximate cause of injuries inflicted upon 
            another by an intoxicated person.

          3)Provides that a social host who furnishes alcoholic beverages 
            to any person is not liable for damages suffered by that 
            person, or for injury to the person or property of, or death 
            of, any third person, resulting from the consumption of those 
            beverages.  

          4)Provides an exception to the above, allowing liability against 
            a parent, guardian, or another adult who knowingly furnishes 
            alcoholic beverages at his or her residence to a person under 
            21 years of age.  Existing law provides that the furnishing of 
            the alcoholic beverage may be found to be the proximate cause 
            of resulting injuries or death.

           AS PASSED BY THE ASSEMBLY  , this committee bill also made a 
          technical clarification by declaring that Civil Code Section 
          51.7 was enacted as part of the Ralph Civil Rights Act of 1976, 
          in Chapter 1293, Statutes of 1976.
           
          FISCAL EFFECT  :  None
           
          COMMENTS  :  This non-controversial committee bill makes a couple 
          of technical clarifications of California's social host 
          liability statute which provides that a claim may be brought 
          against an adult who knowingly furnishes alcohol at his or her 
          residence to a person under 21 years of age.  

          According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and 
          Alcoholism (NIAAA), approximately 5,000 people under the age of 
          21 die every year as a result of underage drinking.  This number 
          includes 1,900 deaths from car accidents, 1,600 homicides, 300 
          suicides, and hundreds of deaths from other injuries such as 
          falls, burns, and drownings.  Children who drink alcohol can 
          also face significant health risks, particularly with respect to 
          alcohol's effect on the liver and the developing brain, muscles, 
          and bones.  NIAAA also reports that research shows that serious 
          drinking problems in adulthood, such as alcoholism, often "begin 
          to appear much earlier, during young adulthood and even 








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          adolescence."

          In June 2008, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services 
          Administration (SAMHSA) within the U.S. Department of Health and 
          Human Services reported that "m]ore than 40 percent of the 
          nation's estimated 10.8 million underage current drinkers 
          (persons aged 12 to 20 who drank in the past 30 days) were 
          provided free alcohol by adults 21 or older  . . .  The study 
          also indicates that one in 16 underage drinkers (6.4 percent or 
          650,000) was given alcoholic beverages by their parents in the 
          past month."  The report also found that "a]n average of 3.5 
          million people aged 12 to 20 each year (9.4 percent) meet the 
          diagnostic criteria for having an alcohol use disorder 
          (dependence or abuse).  About one in five people in this age 
          group (7.2 million people) have engaged in binge 
          drinking-consuming five or more drinks on at least one occasion 
          in the past month."

          Last year, in an effort to help discourage underage drinking and 
          hold adults legally responsible when they knowingly provide 
          alcohol to minors, the Legislature passed and the Governor 
          signed AB 2486 ((Feuer) Chapter 154, Statutes of 2010).  That 
          measure provided that a parent, guardian, or other adult could 
          be held liable if he or she knowingly furnishes alcoholic 
          beverages at his or her residence to a person under 21 years of 
          age.  This bill is a clean-up measure and would clarify that the 
          adult know, or should have known, that the person served alcohol 
          was under age 21.  The bill would also specify that a claim 
          could be brought by, or on behalf of, a person under 21 years of 
          age or an individual who was harmed by the underage person.

          The author writes that the intent of this measure is to "reduce 
          uncertainty in the implementation of California's new social 
          host act" and notes that the bill would:   
          
          1)Clarify what is meant when the statute says "knowingly 
            furnishes." The proposed standard is that an adult can be 
            found to have knowingly furnished alcohol to persons under 21 
            years of age by either being shown to actually know the 
            persons being provided the alcohol were under 21, or being 
            shown to "should have known" that the persons were under 21 
            (by facts surrounding the incident).  Thus, in the absence of 
            actual knowledge, the jury will be asked to determine whether 
            the adult nevertheless should have known that the person was a 
            minor (by being a contemporary of their daughter's class in 








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            high school, for example.)  This clarifies that purposeful 
            lack of knowledge of the age of the minors is not an automatic 
            shield from liability if the adults should have known they 
            were minors.

          2)Clarify that the minor himself or herself may bring an action 
            under this subsection for his or her own harm caused by having 
            been furnished alcohol, as well as third parties (those 
            injured by the minor's conduct, for example) being able to 
            bring such suits.

          Supporter Consumer Attorneys of California (CAOC) writes that 
          this bill is intended to clarify the scope of AB 2486 (Feuer), a 
          CAOC-sponsored bill.  CAOC writes: 

               Last year, CAOC and MADD co-sponsored AB 2486, 
               designed to be one more important tool in the fight 
               against underage drinking.  Shockingly, prior to our 
               bill, there was complete "social host" immunity in 
               the civil courts in instances where someone, in his 
               or her home, provided alcohol to anyone, including a 
               minor.  Although the social host may be criminally 
               prosecuted, the law was absolute that no one could 
               bring a civil action.  After AB 2486 was signed into 
               law, the Judicial Council committee that develops 
               jury instructions was confused about some of the 
               language, so CAOC worked with all parties (the 
               defense counsel and others) to clarify its 
               application.  AB 1407 is the result of those 
               discussions and the language has been vetted and 
               agreed to by all interested parties.

          This bill would specify that a claim under the statute could be 
          brought by, or on behalf of, the person under 21 years of age or 
          an individual who was harmed by that person.  This provision is 
          meant to clarify who may bring a claim under the social host 
          statute so that, for example, the adult who furnished the 
          alcoholic beverages to the minor could be liable to that minor 
          for his or her injuries.  In addition, an individual who was 
          harmed by that minor could also bring a claim against the adult 
          furnisher.  The provision is thus intended to provide guidance 
          to the courts in applying the statute.

          Last year, California joined a number of other states to impose 
          civil liability upon adults when they knowingly provide alcohol 








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          to minors.  According to the author, the following states permit 
          such liability:  Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, 
          Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, 
          Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, 
          Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New 
          Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, 
          Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, 
          Utah, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
           

          Analysis Prepared by  :    Drew Liebert / JUD. / (916) 319-2334 

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