Recently there was an important case which arises when a drunk employee leaves a work party and causes an injury accident on the way home. This recent appellate court decision addresses the issue of an employee getting drunk at an office holiday party, driving themselves home, and then causing a car accident resulting in injuries to other motorists and their passengers.
In this case an employee attended a holiday party put on by a large international hotel chain, the employer. Two drink tickets were provided, and they were to serve only beer and wine. The driver had some whiskey at home, attended the party, and the bartender at the party also provided some whiskey to the driver. Eventually the driver left the party to return home. It was disputed as to who drove. Apparently the driver eventually arrived at his home, and then left, and when he did, he got in an accident, and caused a fatal accident.
At the trial level, the international hotel chain filed a motion for summary judgment, which claimed that as a matter of law they were not liable. This motion was granted, and an appeal ultimately followed. At the appellate level, the court reversed the decision, and said that as a matter of law, the lower court was incorrect.
The appellate court addressed the following issues which they felt were relevant to the issue of the hotelier’s liability. The party in question was for the benefit of the employer. There was alcohol consumed, and this was done during the party, and therefore the intoxication was considered to have occurred within the course and scope of the employment at the hotelier. The fact that the accident took place off the premises is not the determinative fact, but rather, but where the conduct (the drinking/intoxication) occured that was the “proximate” cause of the accident.
Since the drinking occurred at the party, then the employer could be held responsible for the liabilities resulting from the accident of the DUI employee.
When a drunk employee leaves a work party and causes an injury accident on the way home