Is employer liable for employee who becomes drunk at a holiday party?

With the holidays around the corner there will be a lot of annual company holiday parties.
What this means is employers need to weigh the risks of serving alcohol to their employees at their company sponsored event.

Under California law, an employer may be vicariously held liable for the torts committed by an employee within the scope of employment even after the employee returns home.

A ruling from the California appellate court held that employers may be held liable for deaths or injuries resulting from alcohol consumed at an employer-hosted party, even if the injury occurs after the employee has safely arrived home. In the case Purton v. Marriott Int’l, Inc., 2013 WL 3942979 (Cal. App. 4 Dist. July 31, 2013) Landri, an employee at the Marriott, and several others left the party.  About 20 minutes after he arrived home, Landri decided to drive a drunk co-worker home. Landri was driving 100 mph with a blood alcohol level of .16 when he struck a vehicle driven by a doctor, killing him.

The case makes it clear that a California employer bears vicarious liability for the foreseeable acts of it’s intoxicated employees if the alcohol consumption:

• occurred with the employer’s permission,
• was of some benefit to the employer,
• was a customary incident of the employment relationship.

This decision is important to victims injured in an accident caused by a drunk driver. Many California drunk drivers have little or no insurance which leaves victims with no where to turn to obtain the compensation they deserve.  This case holds that an employer who condones drinking at job functions may be financially responsible if their employee injures another person even after they leave the company event.  If you were injured in an accident caused by a drunk driver, it is important to contact an experienced personal injury attorney who can investigate whether the drunk driver was attending a company event before the accident occurred.  The Attorneys at the Edward A Smith Law Offices have over 30 years of experience handling cases involving drunk drivers.  Contact the Edward A Smith Law Offices at 916-921-6400 or toll free at 800-404-5400, for a free case evaluation.

Client Reviews

  • Me and my wife; had a car accident. We were amazed how easy, professional, friendly attorney Ed Smith is along with his staff. Everybody is amazing. Thank you so much, we are very impressed!
  • Ed Smith and his office team took on a difficult personal injury case on my behalf and for the passenger in my car. Ed is a top- notch attorney. His staff couldn't have been more helpful and kind. No need to look elsewhere. I give Ed Smith my highest recommendation.
  • Ed and Robert have been taking great care of my husband and I for the past 5+ years. They are always there when you have a problem and a quick resolution! Even when the issues have nothing to do with them. They are willing to help ease the pain off your shoulders. They are as good as it gets! Thank you again for everything.
  • Very professional. Great team, staff and service all around. Mr Smith was very honest, straight forward with his advice. He gives the word "attorney" an honest reputation. I will seek his council anytime, and would recommend him at the drop of a dime.
  • I would highly recommend Ed Smith to any friends or family in need of a personal injury attorney. Ed, and his staff, are very caring on top of being very experienced in this field. The staff always keeps you informed of the status of your case and they are always easy to reach by phone.
  • Edward Smith law offices provide competent, thorough, and personable help for victims of personal injury. When you first meet the staff you know you contacted the right office. This law office treats clients like people. I recommend this office to anyone seeking representation regarding personal injury.