Law: Host's Risks

Let the partygiver beware

In a decision that has left partygivers in California as shaken as a pitcher of martinis, the state supreme court has ruled that private hosts could be liable for auto accidents and other damages that resulted if they negligently served booze to obviously intoxicated guests.

The case involved one James Coulter, an apprentice machine technician whose right side was paralyzed in a 1976 auto accident on the way home from a party in Foster City, Calif. Coulter, now 28, claims that the car slammed into a bridge abutment because its driver, a...

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