Parents beware: your four-year old could be sued

By Lawyers Weekly|03 March 2012

In an increasingly litigious society we're all aware of the risks of being sued, for whatever reason, but most four-year-olds shouldn't have to worry - except in New York. According to Reuters,…

In an increasingly litigious society we're all aware of the risks of being sued, for whatever reason, but most four-year-olds shouldn't have to worry - except in New York.

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According to Reuters, a New York Supreme Court justice recently ruled that a four-year-old girl - "three months shy of turning five" - is old enough to be sued.

Supreme Court Justice Paul Wooten made the ruling after Juliet Breitman and Jacob Kohn - both aged four - struck an 87-year-old pedestrian with their training bikes. The 87-year-old unfortunately died three months later following surgery.

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The judge dismissed arguments by Breitman's lawyer that the case should be dismissed because of her young age and ruled that she is old enough to be sued, and the case should proceed.

"For infants above the age of four, there is no bright-line rule," Wooten said, also rejecting the lawyer's argument that Breitman should not be held responsible because her mother was supervising the children at the time.

"A parent's presence alone does not give a reasonable child carte blanche to engage in risky behaviour such as running across the street," Wooten said, adding that the term 'supervising' "is too vague to hold meaning here".

Wooten concluded by stating there was no indication or evidence 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".

Parents beware: your four-year old could be sued
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