Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Employer Who Furnishes Alcohol At An Employee Event Considered to be a Social Host -- No Liability for Later DUI Accident By Employee

In the case of Klar v. Dairy Farmers of America, Inc., No. 1280 WDA 2020 (Dec. 17, 20221 Pa. Super. Olson, J., Nichols, J., and Musmanno, J.) (Op. by Olson, J.), the Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed the entry of judgment on the pleadings in favor of the Defendant.

For a summary of the trial court's opinion that was affirmed (and a Link to that decision), please see this Tort Talk Blog post HERE.

The trial court had entered judgment against the Plaintiff and in favor of an employer in a case in which the trial court had ruled that an employer who collects contributions for a social event was still considered to be a social host with respect to any liability claims under the Dram Shop Act. Based upon this ruling, the trial court dismissed the Plaintiff’s negligence claims against the employer.

According to the Superior Court's Opinion, the Pennsylvania was injured in a motor vehicle accident when the vehicle operated by the Defendant driver struck the Plaintiff’s motorcycle.

The Defendant driver was an employee of Dairy Farmers of America. That employer had sponsored a golf outing and encouraged its employees to attend. The employees made a monetary contribution to offset the cost of the greens fees, food, and alcohol. After collecting the contributions from the employees, the employer paid for the event in its entirety.

The Plaintiff alleged that, at the event, the Defendant driver consumed an amount of alcohol that raised his blood alcohol level beyond the legal limit. The Defendant driver then proceeded to drive and was involved in the accident with the Plaintiff.

The Plaintiff sued the Defendant driver as well as his employer under negligence claims. The employer filed a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings arguing that it was not liable under the Dram Shop Act because it was a social host.

The Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled that an employer who furnished alcohol at a sponsored employee social event was not a licensee or other party subject to per se Dram shop liability but was instead a social host who could not be held proximately liable for an employee causing an alleged drunk driving accident.

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK.

Source: “Digest of Recent Opinions.” Pennsylvania Law Weekly (Jan. 4, 2022).

Source of image:  Photo by Steven Shircliff on

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