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Smith v. Lennon

Cohasset, Massachusetts

Gregory Smith (deceased)

John Lennon (social host)

In June of 1996, John Lennon hosted a graduation party for his son, who had graduated from Thayer Academy, and his daughter, who had graduated from college. Mr. Lennon hired a bartender to serve the alcohol. The party was held outside, and when it began to rain, the adults went inside, leaving the teenagers to help themselves to drinks and an unsupervised keg.

Gregory Smith, 18, a contemporary of Mr. Lennon's son, was in attendance at this party. As he drove home to Marshfield after leaving the party, his vehicle crashed into a telephone pole at about 3:20 am, dying as a result of the crash.

John Lennon was found not guilty on 9 counts of providing alcohol to minors and one count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. He was acquitted, by the interpretation of the Social Host Law at the time, due to the fact that he was not actually seen physically handing or providing Gregory Smith an alcoholic beverage.

This ruling prompted Don and Donna Smith, the decedent's parents, to lobby for an amendment to strengthen the Social Host Law, expanding the language in the definition to include "allowing" a person under 21 to consume alcohol, and calling for stricter penalties. State Representative Frank Hynes of Marshfield pushed the amendment through legislation in 2000.

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