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Old October 29th, 2010, 12:48 PM   #1
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Default 4-Year-Old Can Be Sued, Judge Rules in Bike Case

Not sure what to think.


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.
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Old October 29th, 2010, 12:59 PM   #2
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Only in New York.
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Old October 29th, 2010, 01:16 PM   #3
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You know I thought about this for a little bit. Sh@t happens, ok I am sorry an 87 year old died, but come on the estate sueing a 4 year old (estate AKA, greedy family) What do people think they are going to gain by this. I know kids should now right from wrong, but the kid is 4 for the love of god. Their attention span is very short. I think this is a total joke and a waste on money. I think people that do this kind of stuff really dont care about the loved one that they lost but the wealth they did not receive when they passed. Its all about money. Do you really think the 4 year old is going to remember that lady in like say 20 years.
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Old October 29th, 2010, 01:48 PM   #4
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Defiantly for more money.
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Old October 30th, 2010, 12:08 PM   #5
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I don't see anything wrong with it...in fact I hope the estate wins and puts that four yr old in some serious debt
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Old October 30th, 2010, 12:19 PM   #6
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you gotta watch and control your children. you are liable for their actions.

i watched a 6 or 7 year old kid run into the woods in our campground this year.
its chock full of poison ivy. i went over and told him he should not go in there.
he pretty much told me off. so let him play in there all day.
next day was not so fun for him. he was totally covered in it from head to toe.

the parents did not watch or control him, and raised a kid with no respect for adults.

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Old November 2nd, 2010, 11:22 AM   #7
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That judge is right - that 4 year old should be docked 20% of all her working income for the next 10 years, say she gets a dollar a week - I mean that only makes sense as she can be sued, that poor family deserves that $104!
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Old November 2nd, 2010, 01:04 PM   #8
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I think the old lady should have recognized they were racing for pinks and got out of her lane.
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Old November 2nd, 2010, 05:35 PM   #9
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"Correction: October 30, 2010

An article in some editions on Friday about a lawsuit that claims an elderly woman was severely injured by two children racing their bicycles on a Manhattan sidewalk misstated the timing of the woman’s death. The woman, Claire Menagh, died of unrelated causes three months after she was struck, not three weeks."

i can see where the parents could get in trouble for some kind of neglect on their part, like when your letting your pitbulls run in the street and they bit someone... but the kids 4 come on
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Old November 2nd, 2010, 07:05 PM   #10
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