Widow May Have Case Against NBA Party Host

     (CN) – The host of an NBA finals party may be liable for serving alcohol to a visibly intoxicated guest who accidentally shot and killed their friend, an Oregon appeals court ruled.
     Matthew Croslin had his childhood friends Tyler Baker and Tyler Smith over to his house for the 2010 National Basketball Association finals.
     All three carried handguns that evening, and when the game was nearly over, the men began acting out self-defense scenarios with their guns, believing the weapons to be unloaded.
     Smith’s gun was not unloaded, however, and discharged, killing Baker.
     Both 26-year-old men were later found to have blood-alcohol contents of 0.20 percent, The Oregonian reported .
     Though a judge in Multnomah County awarded the Croslin a limited judgment, a three-judge panel with the Oregon Court of Appeals reversed Wednesday, finding that Croslin may be liable to Baker’s widow for serving Smith alcoholic beverages while he was visibly intoxicated.
     “The record contains evidence from which a reasonable factfinder could infer that defendant had control over the alcohol supply from which Smith consumed that final drink and, thus, that defendant ‘served or provided’ Smith with that drink,” Judge Erin Lagesen wrote for the court.
     There is also witness testimony that Smith took a shot of liquor right before the incident, according to the ruling.
     A jury could find “that the only potential sources of Smith’s final drink were defendant’s home bar or a bottle of Cockspur rum that defendant had purchased for decedent and for which decedent had reimbursed defendant,” the opinion states.
     Even if Smith’s final drink was a shot of the Cockspur rum, Croslin could be deemed to have control over the bottle, because it was part of the supply of alcohol available to all at his house, the court said.
     “Although that is not the only permissible inference from the evidence – a factfinder could also permissibly infer to the contrary that decedent’s reimbursement of defendant eliminated defendant’s control over the bottle of Cockspur rum and placed that control in the hands of decedent – it is a reasonable inference,” Lagesen wrote.

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