BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

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

        |COMMITTEE VOTE:  |9-0  |(September 6, 2011) |RECOMMENDATION: |concur    |
        |                 |     |                    |                |          |

        Original Committee Reference:    JUD.  

         SUMMARY  :  Makes a couple of non-controversial 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 


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          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 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 technical clean-up committee bill 
        simply 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 


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        adulthood, such as alcoholism, often "begin to appear much earlier, 
        during young adulthood and even 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, 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 to 
        minors.  According to the author, the following states permit such 
        liability:  Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, 
        Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, 


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        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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