Canadians are not responsible for making sure their house guests don't drive away drunk, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled on Friday.
The top court ruled that Zoe Childs cannot sue the people who let a known drunk drive away from their party in Ottawa on Jan. 1, 1999.
Childs was left paralyzed when Desmond Desormeaux slammed his car into the one she was riding in, killing her boyfriend, Derek Dupre.
The Supreme Court unanimously ruled against her suit for damages.
The court said that when it comes to monitoring a person's drinking, hosts of home parties are not bound by the same rules as commercial establishments, such as bars and restaurants.
"While, in the commercial context, it is reasonable to expect that the provider will act to protect the public interest, the same cannot be said of the social host," the decision stated.
It went on to note that a social host "neither undertakes nor is expected to monitor the conduct of guests on behalf of the public."
A reasonable decision under the circumstances, and one which recognizes the difference between commercial and social hosts.
Commercial hosts can pass the costs of CGL insurance and training servers and bouncers down to their customers; social hosts can't watch everybody, can't usually bounce rowdy drunks themselves, and would be out of pocket entirely because occupier's insurance wouldn't cover them for what someone else did on the highway.
And one that recognizes personal responsibility--no one forces drunk drivers to drink or drive. Theirs alone is the blame.
Cold comfort for Ms. Childs, but at least if your cousin or neighbour has one too many at the backyard barbecue, you won't be expected to watch him like a hawk or wrestle his keys away.