Party hosts should have rides home on standby, and require guests to use them, if they use the Supreme Court’s unofficial eggnog.
The recipe was buried in the papers of Chief Justice Harlan Fiske Stone, who served in that capacity between 1941 and 1946. A sudden brain hemorrhage unexpectedly killed Stone, who was the first Chief Justice who never held an elected office. Stone credited Harry Parker, one of Justice Robert Jackson’s runners, with the recipe. William Rehnquist, who later served as Chief Justice himself, was a Jackson clerk who personally knew Parker. Years later, Rehnquist, who was white, recalled a time when Parker, who was black, was out for several weeks with pneumonia. “Because he was an elderly man, we worried about him, and I called him up one day to tell him I would like to come and see him. He told me that would not be a good idea—that white people simply did not come into a black neighborhood like his. I nonetheless drove out to his house, whereupon he opened his upstairs window and conveyed the same message, in a gentle but determined way.”
Parker’s recipe calls for a dozen eggs, a gallon of milk, a pound of sugar, nutmeg, a quart of whiskey, a half-pint of brandy, and an eighth-pint of rum. Combine egg yolks with sugar, add booze, add milk, add nutmeg to taste, and add beaten egg whites. The eggnog should stay good for a month if kept refrigerated.
During coronavirus lockdowns, alcohol use increased significantly. Many people drank to escape, while others drank to self-medicate, since antidepressants and other medicines were in short supply. Still others drank under the erroneous belief that alcohol killed the virus.
Generally, bad habits are easy to form and hard to break. It was very easy for many people to increase alcohol consumption in the spring of 2020. Over two years later, many people still haven’t broken that habit.
Alcohol is a depressant that slows motor skills. When they operate heavy machinery in fast-paced environments, people need every once of muscle response they can muster. Any loss in this area makes it very unsafe to operate a motor vehicle. The duty of care requires motorists to be at their best, physically, mentally, and otherwise, before they get behind the wheel. If motorists breach their duty of care, and that breach causes injury, a Marietta personal injury attorney can obtain substantial compensation in court.
This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Alcohol also lowers inhibitions. People who drink do and say things they normally wouldn’t do. This effect is great at parties, but dangerous during arguments. Alcohol-fueled debates often become violent arguments.
First Party Liability
Two or three glasses of the Supreme Court’s concoction is most likely intoxicating. Intoxicated people have lost the normal use of their mental or physical faculties. Georgia’s negligence per se law could apply in these situations. Tortfeasors (negligent actors) could be liable for damages as a matter of law if:
- The victim is in a protected class (environmental laws usually don’t protect toxic exposure victims),
- The tortfeasor violated the law, and
- That violation substantially caused injury.
An arrest is sufficient evidence of intoxication in civil court, even if the tortfeasor “beats” the DUI in criminal court. A civil jury decides all the facts in a civil case, including guilt or innocence of a DUI.
The negligence per se rule hardly ever applies in alcohol-related assaults. In fact, intoxication may even be a defense in these cases, at least in criminal court. Aggravated assault, murder, and most other extremely violent crimes are specific intent crimes. Defendants must intend the conduct (hitting the alleged victim) and the result (seriously injuring the alleged victim). As a matter of law and science, criminal defendants cannot mentally multitask.
One or two sips of eggnog is impairing. A Marietta personal injury attorney must use circumstantial evidence to establish impairment. Such evidence includes:
- Bloodshot eyes,
- Slurred speech,
- Tortfeasor’s statements about alcohol consumption,
- Unsteady balance, and
- Odor of alcohol.
This evidence must be strong enough to establish impairment by a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not.
Owners usually have a duty of care to address all injury hazards, including drunken guests who may become violent. Owners could be responsible for any resulting damages if they knew, or should have known, about the hazard that caused injury.
Third Party Liability
We have blogged extensively about Georgia’s dram shop law. This law holds commercial providers liable for alcohol-related injuries in most cases.
Noncommercial providers, such as party hosts, may also be vicariously liable for alcohol-related crash damages, under a theory like negligent undertaking.
Assume Ben is hosting a New Years Eve party. A sign near the door asks all guests to put their car keys in a bowl, so that no one drives home drunk. Ben doesn’t enforce this rule. Alice, along with almost everyone else, keeps her keys. Alice has copious amounts of eggnog, drives home, and causes a collision.
Even though Ben is not a commercial provider, he could be vicariously liable for damages. The car key confiscation was a voluntary undertaking as opposed to a legal obligation. Ben went above and beyond his duty of care. Sometimes, no good deed goes unpunished. Since Ben did not follow up on his commitment, he could be vicariously liable for that car crash.
Special rules apply if minors consume alcohol at social functions or without supervision. It’s usually easier to hold negligent hosts and parents liable for damages in these situations.
Alcohol-related wrecks often cause catastrophic injuries. Many drivers do not have enough insurance coverage to fully compensate these victims. Third party liability theories, like negligent undertaking and dram shop liability, give these victims an additional source of recovery.
We hope you happily, and responsibly, ring in the new year. For a free consultation with an experienced Marietta personal injury attorney, contact The Phillips Law Firm, LLC. Our main office is conveniently located near downtown Marietta.