Your graduating senior wants to throw a party at your house and invite his friends, Jim Beam, Jack Daniels, the team Captain Morgan and their buddy “Wiser.” Is this a good idea?
Your son Graham is graduating from high school and you want to throw a party for him and his friends to celebrate. According to Graham, graduation parties are only fun if everyone is able to kick back and relax with a beer or wine cooler in hand. After all, he and his buddies have worked hard and they “deserve” a drink or two. You know that Graham and his friends will be drinking anyway and after thinking about it a while, you decide that you’d rather them drink at your home where you can keep things under control rather than have them throw a party in a field or in a warehouse with no supervision.
You opt to be the “cool” parent and agree to let Graham throw a graduation party at your home complete with loud music, colorful decorations, great food and a refrigerator full of beer and wine coolers.
R-e-l-i-e-f. The party is going well. Everyone’s having fun. No one’s getting into trouble. The kids are behaving. You’re the cool parent.
And then you go to bed.
Shortly thereafter, some of Graham’s friends (who are obviously intoxicated) decide to have an ultimate fighting tournament in the backyard, just for fun. The boys are just “being boys,” wrestling and exchanging a few friendly punches. It all suddenly takes a turn for the worse when one of the boys, a la Hulk Hogan, crashes a lawn chair squarely over the head of another guy.
You went to bed thinking you were the “cool” parent. Ambulance sirens awaken you to the shock that someone is hurt and is headed for the hospital.
Are you liable?
In 2005, the Texas Legislature amended the Alcoholic Beverage Code to create civil liability (in addition to criminal liability). Specifically, under the current law in Texas, a person can be held civilly liable for damages caused by the intoxication of a minor younger than 18 if he knowingly provided alcohol or allowed the minor to be served alcohol on property owned or leased by him and the minor, in turn, hurt someone, hurt themselves, or damaged property.
Thus, under the facts you have at least some civil liability, and perhaps criminal liability.
See Reeder v. Daniel, 61 S.W.3d 359 (Tex. 2001), which discusses the law before the statute was changed.