Kindergarten court

A New York Supreme Court Judge ruled last week that a child who was 4-years-old at the time she crashed her bike with training wheels into an elderly woman is old enough to be sued.

For what? Her Dora the Explorer lunchbox and custody of a herd of stuffed animals? Face it, the judge was saying her parents could be sued.

The little girl, Juliet, and her speed demon buddy Jacob, who was already a mature 5-year-old, were racing their bicycles on the sidewalk under the supervision of their mothers, an article in the New York Times states, when both crashed into 87-year-old Claire Menagh, who suffered a broken hip that required surgery. Menagh died three months later of unrelated causes. Her estate sued the children and their mothers, claiming they had acted negligently during the incident. Jacob and his mom aren’t fighting the suit, the report claims.

Juliet’s lawyer  James Tyrie (yep, the 4-year-old has a lawyer) said she was not “engaged in adult activity” at the time of the incident and should not be held liable. I think he cited the training wheels. I mean, if you’re using training wheels, obviously you’re not engaged in adult activity, right? In legal papers, Tyrie added, “Courts have held that an infant under the age of 4 is conclusively presumed to be incapable of negligence.”

But the judge, Justice Justice Paul Wooten of State Supreme Court in Manhattan, cited case law dating as far back as 1928, the New York Times states, and 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 Menagh was struck, and thus old enough to be sued.

“Juliet, however, was over the age of 4 at the time of the subject incident,” he wrote.  “For infants above the age of 4, there is no bright-line rule.”

Apparently the lawyer 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.

Reasonably prudent child. Now there’s a phrase that makes me stop and go “Hmmmm….” A kid about the age of 9 dashed out into the street in downtown Worthington the other day after a ball. If I hadn’t been paying close attention, I would have run him over. I had to slam on my brakes, my heart was pounding like that of a cornered rabbit, and he was standing in front of my car holding his soccer ball staring at me like a deer caught in headlights. Then the little jerk gave me the finger and ran away. I was reasonably prudent enough not to chase him down and stuff his ball down his throat.

So that kid obviously wasn’t reasonably prudent, but the judge expects the 4-year-old to act so.

Sorry, Juliet. We know you didn’t mean to run down the lady, but gather up your Pretty, Pretty Princess jewelry anyway. It’s about to be sold so you can pay off your debt to society and the little old lady’s family.

5 thoughts on “Kindergarten court

  1. It’s kind of sad that some people cannot accept that sometimes accidents happen. They’re just accidents, nothing more, nothing less. Congratulations on demonstrating such restraint when the kids gave you the bird!

  2. If you plowed down my 87-yr old grandmother while your kids were “racing” their bicycles “under supervision”, I’d be after you too. Sidewalks are for walking, not for racing bikes. And the activities of those children and their supervising parents (or lack thereof), had a whole lot to do with the pain and suffering of an elderly woman. Pony up and admit some goddamn responsibility….

  3. This is just to ridiculous. This is a prime example of the pussification of society. 10 years ago, if this had happened, the old lady would either A. Scream at the kids or B. Scream at the mom, and that would be the end of that. This recent trend of “Sue everybody who looks at you funny” is not only borderline retarded, but acts counter to the original goals set in america, Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of happiness. It sure is a hell of a lot harder to be happy when you have to constantly look over your shoulders and worry about the poor granny that sues you out of house and home because your daughter happens to enjoy riding her bike on the sidewalk. Stuff like this is why I have no faith in humanity.

  4. “Menagh died three months later of unrelated causes.”

    So the victim had not sought a lawyer and presumably not pressed suit herself, however her greedy “estate” wanted more money…hmmm.

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