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BamaGrits84
10-29-2010, 06:39 PM
:huh:

4-Year-Old Can Be Sued, Judge Rules in Bike Case
By ALAN FEUER
Published: October 28, 2010


Citing cases dating back as far as 1928, a judge has ruled that a young girl accused of running down an elderly woman while racing a bicycle with training wheels on a Manhattan sidewalk two years ago can be sued for negligence.

The ruling by the judge, Justice Paul Wooten of State Supreme Court in Manhattan, did not find that the girl was liable, but merely permitted a lawsuit brought against her, another boy and their parents to move forward.

The suit that Justice Wooten allowed to proceed claims that in April 2009, Juliet Breitman and Jacob Kohn, who were both 4, were racing their bicycles, under the supervision of their mothers, Dana Breitman and Rachel Kohn, on the sidewalk of a building on East 52nd Street. At some point in the race, they struck an 87-year-old woman named Claire Menagh, who was walking in front of the building and, according to the complaint, was “seriously and severely injured,” suffering a hip fracture that required surgery. She died three weeks later.

Her estate sued the children and their mothers, claiming they had acted negligently during the accident. In a response, Juliet’s lawyer, James P. Tyrie, argued that the girl was not “engaged in an adult activity” at the time of the accident — “She was riding her bicycle with training wheels under the supervision of her mother” — and was too young to be held liable for negligence.

In legal papers, Mr. Tyrie added, “Courts have held that an infant under the age of 4 is conclusively presumed to be incapable of negligence.” (Rachel and Jacob Kohn did not seek to dismiss the case against them.)

But Justice Wooten declined to stretch that rule to children over 4. On Oct. 1, he rejected a motion to dismiss the case because of Juliet’s age, noting that she was three months shy of turning 5 when Ms. Menagh was struck, and thus old enough to be sued.

Mr. Tyrie “correctly notes that infants under the age of 4 are conclusively presumed incapable of negligence,” Justice Wooten wrote in his decision, referring to the 1928 case. “Juliet Breitman, however, was over the age of 4 at the time of the subject incident. For infants above the age of 4, there is no bright-line rule.”

The New York Law Journal reported the decision on Thursday.

Mr. Tyrie had also argued that Juliet should not be held liable because her mother was present; Justice Wooten disagreed.

“A parent’s presence alone does not give a reasonable child carte blanche to engage in risky behavior such as running across a street,” the judge wrote. He added that any “reasonably prudent child,” who presumably has been told to look both ways before crossing a street, should know that dashing out without looking is dangerous, with or without a parent there. The crucial factor is whether the parent encourages the risky behavior; if so, the child should not be held accountable.

In Ms. Menagh’s case, however, there was nothing to indicate that Juliet’s mother “had any active role in the alleged incident, only that the mother was ‘supervising,’ a term that is too vague to hold meaning here,” he wrote. He concluded that there was no evidence of Juliet’s “lack of intelligence or maturity” or anything to “indicate that another child of similar age and capacity under the circumstances could not have reasonably appreciated the danger of riding a bicycle into an elderly woman.”

Mr. Tyrie, Dana Breitman and Rachel Kohn did not respond to messages seeking comment.

Of all the crazy lawsuits I have heard of this one takes the cake! This quote by the judge gets me the most "indicate that another child of similar age and capacity under the circumstances could not have reasonably appreciated the danger of riding a bicycle into an elderly woman." What 4 year old thinks for one second "If I hit that old lady with my bike she might get hurt bad and die." NONE.

County Mike
10-29-2010, 11:33 PM
Suing the mother makes sense to me though. If they were allowing their kids to race their bikes into old ladies, they should be held responsible.

I'm not a fan of suing everybody whenever something happens, but I don't see this one as any more ridiculous than general negligence causing injury suits. Obviously, the parents will pay the damages and not the little girl.

NateR
10-30-2010, 01:22 AM
:huh: So exactly how does someone go about becoming a judge? Obviously an intelligence test is not a requirement. :blink:

flo
10-30-2010, 01:54 AM
:huh: So exactly how does someone go about becoming a judge? Obviously an intelligence test is not a requirement. :blink:

:laugh: (or maybe the crying emoticon would be more appropriate)

My 2 cents, sue the mom, leave the toddler out of it.

Bonnie
10-30-2010, 02:34 AM
:huh:

Of all the crazy lawsuits I have heard of this one takes the cake! This quote by the judge gets me the most "indicate that another child of similar age and capacity under the circumstances could not have reasonably appreciated the danger of riding a bicycle into an elderly woman." What 4 year old thinks for one second "If I hit that old lady with my bike she might get hurt bad and die." NONE.

That quote and this one: :blink:

“A parent’s presence alone does not give a reasonable child carte blanche to engage in risky behavior such as running across a street,” the judge wrote. He added that any “reasonably prudent child,” who presumably has been told to look both ways before crossing a street, should know that dashing out without looking is dangerous, with or without a parent there. The crucial factor is whether the parent encourages the risky behavior; if so, the child should not be held accountable.

He's a) never been a parent, b) is/was a non-parent, c) never been around young children, d) forgotten what it's like to be a child, e) as Nate suggests, lacks the proper intelligence to be sitting on the bench, or f) the majority of these.

Does any logical, commonsensical person (you don't necessarily have to be a parent to realize this) automatically assume that a young child is going to be "reasonably prudent" or not do something just because they've been told not too because they could get hurt. :rolleyes:

Suing the mother makes sense to me though. If they were allowing their kids to race their bikes into old ladies, they should be held responsible.

I'm not a fan of suing everybody whenever something happens, but I don't see this one as any more ridiculous than general negligence causing injury suits. Obviously, the parents will pay the damages and not the little girl.

They probably should have taken them to a park where there weren't people coming and going out of buidlings and walking on the sidewalk. The mothers' showed poor judgment in that, but I do think it was an accident, unfortunately with tragic consequences. :sad: I can understand the lady's children being very upset with the death of their mom especially since this was a preventable accident; but I don't think they should have sued the children (or even their moms though that makes more sense). And it really didn't make sense to me for them to continue with the suit once the judge ruled the little girl wouldn't be held liable. I'm not sure what they had to gain...

Maybe the moms should have been liable for all medical/funeral costs.


:huh: So exactly how does someone go about becoming a judge? Obviously an intelligence test is not a requirement. :blink:

There are many people/victims who ask that question; some don't live to ask it. :wink: I consider some judges' decisions to be negligently criminal, unfortunately, the worst that usually happens to a judge is he's "allowed" to retire. :angry: