4-Year Old Can Be Sued, Judge Rules

A judge has ruled that a suit can be brought against a 4-year old who mowed down an 87-year old lady with her bike.

As their mothers watched, the girl and another child were racing their bikes, equipped with training wheels, down a sidewalk when they struck an elderly woman walking in front of a building on East 52nd st in Manhattan. The woman suffered a hip fracture and died three weeks months after surgery later of unrelated causes. Her estate sued the children and their parents for negligence.

Previous courts have ruled that children under 4 are incapable of negligence and cannot be sued for it. The child in this case was 3 months under 5 and the judge decided not to extend the four and under rule to her.

In his ruling, the judge concluded by saying there was nothing to indicate the child’s “lack of intelligence or maturity” or evidence 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.”

4-Year-Old Can Be Sued, Judge Rules in Bike Case [NYT] (Thanks to Howard!)

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  1. your new nemesis says:

    Uumm…what?

  2. MaliBoo Radley says:

    While what happen to this elderly woman is tragic, this whole thing is crazy over litigious.

    • Pax says:

      The woman suffered a broken hip, and received surgery for it. Then she was probably sickly, and in need of extensive post-operative care.

      That means, “tremendous medical bills”.

      Now, imagine that the estate also owns the family home. Maybe the very place where that elderly woman, herself, was born and grew up. Imagine that the estate doesn’t have enough other assets to cover those medical bills – and that the same is true of her heirs.

      Absent some other way to pay for the debts, that house must be sold.

      So the family is looking at losing not only their grandmother … but also, their grandmother’s home.

      To me, that’s not only not a bad reason to bring suit, it’s an EXCELLENT reason to do so.

      • MaliBoo Radley says:

        All because a small child made a mistake. Yeah, that makes sense.

        This whole country is going the way of the victim. There are no mistakes or accidents anymore, just reasons to sue people.

        • stock2mal says:

          A little kid runs her bike into your child because she wasn’t paying attention and puts him/her in a coma. You don’t have medical insurance, hospital bills are piling up. What do you do?

          This isn’t a case of someone suing for pain and suffering because their arm got scratched.

          • MaliBoo Radley says:

            Let’s say you have those same circumstances, but you did the injury to yourself. Maybe you slipped on a wet patch in your kitchen. What would you do in that instance?

            I think people are just too damn sue happy.

            • guroth says:

              I guess you’d sue yourself. Is that the answer you were looking for? Your post didn’t seem to imply much else.

              The only thing ridiculous about this story is that they are putting the child at the heart of the matter, when in reality it should be the parents.

              Maybe the parents did nothing wrong, doesn’t matter, they are held responsible for the actions of their child until they are deemed independent.

              • Rose says:

                They wouldn’t have to – they’d simply pay their own bill, which is what the family is asking in court.

            • skylar.sutton says:

              The family caused monetary damages that the estate must now incur… I fail to see how anything BUT a lawsuit is adequate in this instance.

              Yes, the child was 4. Yes, mistakes happen… but damages are damages and must be compensated.

              Since you love to use analogies (based on your other replies): If the child had thrown a baseball through your front window – would you have excused it or would you have expected the parents to replace the window? My guess is you would have asked them to fix the window. When they refused, would you have taken them to court for the incurred damages? My guess is you would. This is no different.

              • MaliBoo Radley says:

                I would likely request a window replacement. By that analogy, I can only assume you think these people should request a Grandma replacement. That’s what they lost, after all.

                These people suffered a tremendous loss, but suing isn’t going to bring Grandma back. Maybe they think money will make them feel better …

                • c!tizen says:

                  They’re not suing to bring Grandma back, they’re suing for damages. Naming the children in the suit is probably just a “CYA” thing on the lawyer’s part, in all honesty what are they going to do to a 4 year old, garnish her wages?

                  • LatinoGeek says:

                    They will wait until the 4-yo is old enough to work and then garnish their wages. Pretty f’n sinister if you ask me…..

                • Thyme for an edit button says:

                  Money is an inadequate remedy, but it is the only remedy available. If a kid threw a baseball at your face and you lost your vision, you wouldn’t sue because money is all you’ll get since the court doesn’t have the ability to make the kid give you your sight back? Yeah right.

                • skylar.sutton says:

                  They did ask for a “grandma replacement”… otherwise known as the medical costs and fees associated with a hospital stay.

              • The Porkchop Express says:

                you said it right there….the parents. I doubt anybody thinks that the lady or her estate don’t deserve some compensation, but a 4 year old still does not fully comprehend all that much. hell neither does a 5 year old.

                Also, I know these kids were going as fast as THEY can, but how fast is that and is there any negligence on the lady for not looking where she was going? I don’t know that we have all the facts.

            • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

              I would / could do nothing. I’m dead.

              I most certainly wouldn’t want my surviving relatives to be pushed into bankruptcy and homelessness over my remaining medical bills. How’d that water get there? Did it leak from something? Who’s to blame!?

              The real problem is the astronomical cost of health care and the “throw ‘em to the wolves” attitude of the current health system in the US. Ridiculous lawsuits to offset those costs are merely the symptom.

              • MaliBoo Radley says:

                I completely agree about the health care angle. The system we have now is incredibly flawed. I long for single payer, but I can’t see it happening in my lifetime.

              • MrEvil says:

                But your relatives won’t be saddled with your medical bills. The hospital is going to have to take up any balance due with your estate during probate procedings. And once Probate’s said and done it’s too late for them to get a penny. If your estate won’t cover it all that’s just too fucking bad.

                SURVIVORS DON’T HAVE TO PAY A DECEASED RELATIVE’S DEBT! (unless you co-signed) This point has been mentioned on Consumerist MANY times. Unpaid creditors can file a claim against the estate which the probate court will examine and distribute the estate accordingly, or demand that real property be sold in order to cover the debts. The only expense you’ll bear from a deceased relative is funeral cost and that’s only if you show up to the morgue to ID the body (in some jurisdictions).

                • Pax says:

                  No, surivors don’t have to pay remaining bills.

                  But EVERYTHING the deceased owned at the time of their death, can be siezed and sold off to generate funds with which to pay those debts.

                  Family home? Sold.

                  Wedding ring, and other jewelry? Sold.

                  Old memorabilia from Grandpa’s WW2 service? Sold.

                  Furniture? Sold.

                  All of it, before a single heir gets a single item, gets sold, until those debts are completely paid off. HEIRS DON’T GET ANYTHING, NOT EVEN ONE THIN DIME, UNTIL AND UNLESS THE ESTATE’S DEBTS ARE PAID IN FULL.

          • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

            You don’t sue children. You sue adults. If the court find the parents negligable in monitoring their child, so be it. But the children does not have the mental capacity to be held liable for these actions.

          • Groanan says:

            How is the child going to pay the medical bills?
            Any judgement against the child will probably be deferred until they hit 18 anyway.

            The real injustice I feel your comment highlights is that in our society you have to pay money to receive medical care.

            Some society right? We care so much about each other that if one of us gets hurt we look the other way unless they have cash.

      • pcPhr34k says:

        Have… have you ever met a 4 year old? They kinda don’t know much… Tragic as the situation is, running a 4 year old through the court system sounds devastating to the kid. Imagine what that kid will be like growing up…

      • VeganPixels says:

        tl;dr
        Medical bills=financial ruin. Again.

      • Powerlurker says:

        Also, riding a bicycle on the sidewalk is illegal.

        • dpeters11 says:

          For adults, yes. But generally there’s an age limit. Now, I don’t know about NYC, but here you can be under the age of 14 and legally ride on sidewalks. I doubt that in NYC, a 4 year old is expected to only ride on bike paths, or in the street.

        • zatoism says:

          uhhh, 4 year olds are not expected to ride in traffic.

        • productfred says:

          I live in NYC. Over here if you’re 15 or older, you can’t ride on the sidewalk. Although cops are loose about it where I’m from (Bay Ridge, Brooklyn).

        • grumpygirl says:

          That depends on local laws. What do the ordinances of NYC say about that?

      • theduckay says:

        sue the PARENTS. I don’t understand why people have to bring the child into it. You want money? Thats why you sue the people responsible for the child. No one is saying they shouldn’t try to collect damages, just that suing a freaking four year old is ridiculous.

      • danmac says:

        In other words, it’s too bad that the four-year-old didn’t kill the old woman outright. When I have children, I will teach them to back over their victims to make sure they finish the job.

      • MB17 says:

        Wow, let’s chill out an not treat a bunch of “what ifs” as facts.

        • Pax says:

          I didn’t treat them as facts. Merely outlined one plausible scenario in which this suit is not a case of “being overly litigious”, but being a simple attempt to preserve and retain somehting that the woman’s heirs might hold dear to them.

    • grapedog says:

      It’s an accident, and someone is dead because of it. If it was nothing more than a sprained wrist or twisted ankle, I’d agree with you. But in this case, someone died… that’s no longer an accident.

      Having read through comments, I understand that there is a law allowing 12 years olds to ride their bicycles on the sidwalk if the size of their tires is a certain size or smaller. That doesn’t change the fact that maybe they shouldn’t be riding their bikes on the sidewalks of manhattan if they can’t control them or can’t avoid driving into people.

      Vehicular manslaughter i’d say!

      • drizzt380 says:

        You know, I really don’t want to correct everyone who has been misled by this consumerist article, but I may have to.

        This article is wrong, the linked article says she died 3 months(not 3 weeks) later of unrelated causes.

        This is really just a suit to cover medical costs.

        • dragonvpm says:

          You know correcting people, even if you’re technically right, doesn’t necessarily add anything to the discussion and it doesn’t necessarily make you look smarter.

          Yes, she did die 3 months and not 3 weeks later and her death was not related to the accident. This just makes it hard for us to say “well what does she want to do?” How does the 3 months vs 3 weeks affect the core of the article? The kids were still doing something of questionable safety and their parents were still there and could have intervened prior to the accident but they didn’t. Do you agree or disagree with the judge? Who should be “responsible” for the costs associated with this accident? There’s a lot to talk about here without getting mired in minutia that doesn’t directly affect the situation.

          • drizzt380 says:

            Why do people need to make arguments outside of the core of the article?

            “It’s an accident, and someone is dead because of it. If it was nothing more than a sprained wrist or twisted ankle, I’d agree with you. But in this case, someone died… that’s no longer an accident.”

            Thats part of the comment I replied to. I am not arguing about the case. And I’m not correcting someone to say I’m smart their stupid. I’m trying to inform people that they have been misled by this consumerist article.

            Perhaps it is not central to the core of this article, but saying over and over again that the child caused the death of the elderly lady isn’t really central either.

    • dragonvpm says:

      Given the facts of the case I don’t think this is over litigious. The kid did run into the old lady and the old lady did die as a result of the surgery she needed due to her injuries. Look at what they’re doing, they’re suing _everyone_ involved, parents AND kids. Obviously they don’t expect to recover anything from the kids themselves, but given that the parents probably have some form of insurance that covers the kids, they’re maximizing the likelihood that they can recover damages from some/all of the people involved. iirc some insurance policies have maximum payouts per person involved so suing a parent and child could double how much money the insurance might cough up.

      Ultimately this wasn’t “just” an accident, it was something that could have been prevented VERY easily. All they had to do was not let their kids RACE on the sidewalk. If you’re out with your kid letting them ride on the sidewalk then teach them to be ride carefully and maybe stay close to you as you walk.

      • drizzt380 says:

        The article says she died due to unrelated causes.

        I have no conflicting statements, so I must assume that is correct.

        This article is also wrong. It says she died 3 weeks later, but the linked article says she died 3 months later.

        • dragonvpm says:

          Good catch, I guess I saw it when it said 3 weeks which made it seem much more likely that there might have been some connection. So she didn’t die from the collision, but she did need medical attention from it and the kids did cause the collision.

          Looking at the judge’s rational if there is a precedent that sets the dividing line at less than 4 years old and greater than 4 years old then really what else could he do? The precedent doesn’t seem unreasonable, 4 years old seems like a decent point at which you could begin to argue that someone acted negligently. Given that being tried as an “adult” is applied kids in their teens I can see why you might say that from 4-15-ish you have a responsibility spectrum where you could argue that a 4 year old couldn’t understand that throwing a hair dryer into a tub while someone was bathing was wrong and a 12 year old should, but a 4 year old might be expected to have been taught to not run into traffic (or not to push another child in front of a bus etc…).

          The rest of my comments stand though, this seems to clearly be an attempt to sue everyone involved in order to account for the vagaries of insurance company rules and I can’t really fault them for it. I still don’t think that the parents should have allowed their kids to race on a sidewalk and I suspect their insurance companies will quite possibly end up settling with the old ladies estate.

    • JJEagleHawk says:

      I don’t think so.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garratt_v._Dailey

      Yes, I know wikipedia is a crappy source, here’s a link to the full case if you want to read it http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=5658433998773861066&hl=en&as_sdt=2&as_vis=1&oi=scholarr

      Not all of this is good law in every single jurisdiction, but it’s in all the case books for a reason.

      It’s not a huge leap to assume that a (nearly) 5 year old girl would or should know the risks of running a bike at high speed into another person. This merely holds her liable for her actions.

      It’s not over litigious, either — someone DIED. What is the lady’s estate supposed to do? Say “She was old, no worries mate?”

      • Groanan says:

        I have no sympathy for the 87 year old lady’s estate, or her heirs.
        She is dead, no dollar judgement against a child (who won’t be able to pay it until over a decade later) will bring her back to life.

        We should go back to having torts die at death.

        We have criminal laws to deter murder, so I do not worry too much about people intentionally killing their tort victims to prevent from having to pay large sums of money.

        Wrongful death actions can support the loss felt by those who were being supported by the deceased, and criminal manslaughter laws will hopefully be more lenient on minors.

        • coren says:

          I don’t agree, because that would let companies who do things that cause or contribute to diseases like cancer and whatnot to get away with it because death resulted.

  3. lymer says:

    Sounds about right for New York.

  4. chocula78 says:

    That judge must hate children or something.

    • segfault, registered cat offender says:

      Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

    • c!tizen says:

      well if they’d stay off his lawn…

    • demonicfinger says:

      if my family member was killed in a bicycle accident or a gun accident or a ladder accident or a shoe accident or whatever accident that was caused by any body of any age- i will sue till there is no more suing left in me.

  5. Thyme for an edit button says:

    If there is a judgment, now do you collect on a 4 year old? Do you just wait untold they are older and have assets? Do the parents have to pay?

    Just curious.

    I do think a child of that age should have the sense not to go ramming her bike into people

    • jshier says:

      Parents get to pay. For something they couldn’t have predicted or prevented. This lady’s estate should be ashamed.

      • SideshowCrono says:

        How could they not prevented it? Don’t let your kids play with bikes in NYC streets first of all. It’s not like the suburbs.

        Also, 4 year olds shouldn’t be outside unattended anyways.

        Completely preventable.

        • jshier says:

          RTFA you idiots. They were supervised. By both parents. On the sidewalk. And the lady’s “serious and severe” injuries? She fell down. Due to her age, that broke her hip. Even if the child saw the lady and was able to appreciate the fact that she shouldn’t run into people, do you really think she could appreciate the lady’s age and therefore greater risk of injury just from falling down?

          • Aennan says:

            She also died, to be clear.

          • Leksi Wit says:

            First off, you shouldn’t attack posters by calling them “idiots” as that is a fallacious form of argument logic known as “argumentum ad hominem”.
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem
            Plus, it’s plain rude as you don’t know this person, and I’m sure it could get you banned from these forums.

            Secondly, in the full article on the NYT web site, the judge cites that the term “supervision” is being used loosely. The kids were “racing” down a Manhattan sidewalk lined with buildings with entrances onto the sidewalk. How could the “supervising” mothers allow their children to engage in such dangerous behavior? Also, it is illegal to ride your bike on the sidewalk in New York City. The police can seize your bike. The reason for this law is because of the peril riding your bike on the streets poses to pedestrians. The parents are 100% culpable in this situation.

            • Megalomania says:

              Cyclists in New York City must
              1. Ride on the street, not on the sidewalks (unless rider is age 12 or younger and the bicycle’s wheels are less than 26 inches in diameter).

              Next time you want to pretend to be the responsible one who knows everything, try knowing at least one thing first.

          • guroth says:

            “Even if the child saw the lady and was able to appreciate the fact that she shouldn’t run into people”

            At nearly 5 years of age, if the kid didn’t know you shouldn’t ram into people on your bike at full speed then the parents are negligent.

            If a 5 year old shoots and kills someone, and the defense is that the kid didn’t know shooting someone would kill them…. not gonna hold up.

          • Thyme for an edit button says:

            You don’t have to appreciate the extent of harm, just that harm can result even if the person has a frailty that means the harm is more severe than for a non frail person. This is a common doctrine known as the eggshell skull rule.

      • Hodo says:

        Really? While I don’t think that a parent can control every action of their child, the framework of this situation seems to be an indication of at least some parental neglect. For example, the child is riding on a NY sidewalk at the age of 4 . . . un-supervised by an adult? Now by un-supervised, I don’t mean that the parent has to be RIGHT THERE, but within sight (given the surroundings), yeah, probably.

        This IS a tough call . . . but I tend to side with the general public when it comes to issues of childcare. Your children aren’t the world’s responsibility. I’m glad you made a choice to HAVE kids and everything . . . good for you. But your personal choices shouldn’t infringe on my ability to say . . . walk down a sidewalk without being mowed down.

        • somedaysomehow says:

          RTFA, guys. “As their mothers watched. ” Their mothers WERE watching them.

          • Geekmom says:

            Doesn’t mean they were doing a good job parenting.

            I used to be friends with a woman who’s son was a terror and she’d watch him slide his bike in to other kids with out slowing down. If confronted she’d say, “Oh it was an accident” or “Boys will be boys.” If her son attacked another kid she’d say, “They must have deserved it. My boy doesn’t hit people for no reason.”

            She was always supervising him, but she wasn’t parenting him. The whole slamming in to an old woman and not trying to stop leads me to imagine that is the sort of parenting going on here and probably why the family is so mad they’re suing the kid too.

      • Thyme for an edit button says:

        Why? The woman suffered and then died due to someone else’s carelessness.

        • FrugalFreak says:

          This is what is wrong with this world, plain idiots, robber kills you fine, sue, If a child who accidently runs into you, don’t sue. 20% of people have no decency or common sense these days. That number I’m sure is estimated low.

          • Thyme for an edit button says:

            So the woman’ estate should be responsible for all the medical bills? And the pain of losing a loved one due to someone else’s carelessness?

            It doesn’t matter that it was an accident. Negligence deals with accidents where there is no intent. Kids no more get to do stupid, careless things that harm others than adults do. I don’t think putting the cost of an accident on the person most able to avoid it is “what is wrong with this world.”

            • xanxer says:

              If she was that old, I’m pretty sure she had medical insurance (medicare or otherwise) of some kind that covers trauma.

              • Thyme for an edit button says:

                Medicare does not pay 100%. Not everyone has Medicare. If she has Medicaid, the state will seek recovery against the woman’s estate.

                Medicare and Medicaid do not pay compensation for pain and suffering.

              • Pax says:

                Deductible. Annual coverage limits. Some forms of coverage not covered at all for X or Y number of days.

                And to top it all off, if she wound up in a hospital for an extended stay, her Social Security checks may have been drastically reduced – all the way down to $40 to $100 – for living in a “residential care facility”. Sucks to be her if she’s still paying credit card debts, mortgage, car payments, etc, yes?

        • drizzt380 says:

          The woman may have suffered from someone negligence, but you can’t say she died from it.

          The consumerist article is misleading. It says she died 3 weeks later after surgery.

          The linked article says she died 3 months later of unrelated causes.

          Thats just a really horrible mistake. First the timing is off(making it seem more likely the surgery was the cause) and then it says after surgery(implying that the surgery was linked with her death).

      • DanRydell says:

        It’s illegal to ride a bike on the sidewalk. Unfortunately a kid shouldn’t ride a bike in a city street either, but that doesn’t mean it’s alright to ride on the sidewalk. Sidewalks are for pedestrians NOT vehicles for exactly this reason. The parents should have taken the kids to a park. Lack of space for kids to play is one of the downsides to living in a city.

        • AI says:

          Many cities have rules where bicycles with wheels under a certain size are allowed on sidewalks. Precisely to allow children to ride their bikes on sidewalks.

        • Engine-B says:

          According to NYC.gov, children under the age of 12 are allowed to ride their bikes on the sidewalk.

          Cyclists in New York City must
          1. Ride on the street, not on the sidewalks (unless rider is age 12 or younger and the bicycle’s wheels are less than 26 inches in diameter).

          http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/bicyclists/biketips.shtml

        • Johnny Rotten says:

          This same series of events couldn’t have taken place in a park (or would have been less likely) ?

        • grumpygirl says:

          Do you know for sure that it’s illegal for a child in New York City to ride a bicycle on the sidewalk? It’s not illegal in all places in this country, even if it is where you live.

      • Pax says:

        Couldn’t have predicted or prevented? They were WATCHING the girls race their bikes!

        And, it’s a “sidewalk” … yes, that’s right, a side-WALK. It’s a place for people to WALK, not ride bicycles.

        Want your kids to have fun riding their bikes? TAKE THEM TO A PARK, where at the very least, the pedestrians are co-responsible because children playing, riding bikes, etc is to be expected.

        • Talisker says:

          The sidewalk is for regular walkin’, not for fancy walkin’.

          • Qantaqa says:

            You shot who in the what now?

          • jdm says:

            You shot who in the what now?

          • esp13 has a pony named Steve says:

            Side walkin’ and jive talkin’…

            @Pax – “And, it’s a “sidewalk” … yes, that’s right, a side-WALK. It’s a place for people to WALK, not ride bicycles.”

            Names do not mandate rules. If that where the case, I’d never have to worry about getting busted just because I got a “happy ending” The local laws may have allowed or even required small children to ride on the side-WALK.

            • shepd says:

              I don’t know about there, but almost everywhere I know of has laws that say bicycles go on the street and that riding on the sidewalk gets you a ticket. Of course, I know of nowhere that enforces the law, but that doesn’t mean it’s right to do it.

        • sljepi says:

          Boy you are a Grinch. Lighten up, life is short…

      • sonneillon says:

        Probably not.

        “The general rule in New York is well settled that parents cannot be held civilly liable for
        the failure to properly supervise their children. Holodook v. Spencer, 43 A.D.2d 129
        (1974).”

        The bike has a possibility of being considered a dangerous instrument furnished by the parents which would allow parental liability, but it is unlikely.

        http://www.morrisonmahoney.com/publications/B.Heermance%20Article.pdf

    • clownsRcreepy says:

      How do you collect? Indentured servitude.

    • Julia789 says:

      I would not hold a 4-year-old responsible for crashing a bike. She could have looked away for a second.

      Heck, I am an adult and I crashed a bike a few years ago. I turned my head to see if cars were coming as I prepared to cross a small intersection, and hit a light post as I drifted a little bit while looking the other way for cars.

      • Thyme for an edit button says:

        You didn’t harm anyone but yourself. The kid didn’t crash into an inanimate object.

      • bwcbwc says:

        The only way to hit an old lady during a bike race in midtown Manhattan is if they were racing on the sidewalk. That is the real negligence here that even a 4 1/2 year old should have known. The sidewalks are there for pedestrians, cyclists who can’t handle street traffic yet are tolerated on sidewalks only for their own safety.

        On the other hand, if the cause of death was “unrelated”, I don’t see where they have a claim. Or are they going for “pain and suffering during the last tragic months of our beloved grandmother’s life”?

        • dragonhunter21 says:

          Someone made a point earlier that children under 14 years old can ride bycicles on the sidewalk, so that removes some of the negligence- which makes the grounds for a negligence suit even more shaky.

      • DragonThermo says:

        Did you sue the city for negligence for putting a light post where cyclists could run into it? After all, nothing bad that happens to us is our own fault. You could have gotten a ton of dough.

  6. Mighty914 says:

    I don’t understand. is this just a token suit to make a point or is there actually something to be gained here?

    • Kanjimari says:

      They gain compensation for the incompetence of a stupid child who effectively killed a family member.

      It doesnt matter that they’re a child. They cannot sue the parents, because the parents did not actually “do” anything. But the child did, and the child shows no signs of being mentally incapable of understanding what they did, and so they are being sued. The parents will be the ones to front the bill.

      • Harrkev says:

        Or better yet, the parents (and child) do not show up for court. Summary judgment for the family of the old lady, and then the parents have the kid declare bankruptcy (which will drop off of their credit report before they turn 18, so no problem).

        Total cost to parents: about $1,000 or so.

        Of course, if the parents are included in the suit, then things change.

        • FrugalFreak says:

          court judgements can’t be bankrupted off I don’t think.

          • sonneillon says:

            Sometimes they can sometimes they can’t.

          • drizzt380 says:

            Some court judgements.

            I’m seeing willful or malicious injury. And this was negligence.

            There are 11 others(some judgements some not) but they don’t apply here either.

        • Pax says:

          In many jurisdictions, children are chattel – the property of their parents. Every dime a child earns? Belongs to the parents.

          Conversely, every dime a child owes …? Also belongs to the parents.

          So it’d have to be the parents going into bankruptcy, not the child.

        • notovny says:

          Parents are indeed included in the suit

      • FrugalFreak says:

        that child is not stupid, just a child.

        • bwcbwc says:

          The mothers were stupid though. A training-wheel bike race in midtown Manhattan? If the kids are on the sidewalk that’s too fast for the pedestrians and if it’s in the street, that’s too slow for the taxis and limos.

          I hope the mothers are respondents in the suit together with their children.

      • The Porkchop Express says:

        no, they can sue the parents, parents are not only supposed to be responsible for little kids, but they are also legally responsible for the kids.

        Also, dick, stupid child? you ever do anything fun when you were little? you know sometimes kids doing fun things don’t pay much attention to everything around them. You know what, some adults do to. Just because you do something by accident does not make you stupid.

      • The Porkchop Express says:

        no, they can sue the parents, parents are not only supposed to be responsible for little kids, but they are also legally responsible for the kids.

        Also, dick, stupid child? you ever do anything fun when you were little? you know sometimes kids doing fun things don’t pay much attention to everything around them. You know what, some adults do to. Just because you do something by accident does not make you stupid.

      • drizzt380 says:

        This little girl did not effectively kill a family member. Let me quote two things.

        “The woman suffered a hip fracture and died three weeks after surgery.” -Consumerist Article

        “She died three months later of unrelated causes.” -NYTimes Article

        There is not only a factual difference between these two quotes, but the consumerist has obviously sensationalized the death by attempting to link it closely with the surgery.

  7. sirwired says:

    And what exactly is expected to be the result of this suit? What assets or income could possibly be seized from a 5-year-old child?

    Maybe this is a formality so suit could be filed against the parents for improper supervision. (Maybe reasonable, maybe not… no way to tell from the article.)

    • segfault, registered cat offender says:

      There may be liability insurance coverage for the child if its parents have a homeowners/renter’s policy.

    • MrHeartOfGold says:

      The 4YO has *no* assets to lose. However, my inner alligator thinks that the parents MUST have
      a personal accident insurance policy that extends to the kiddos. Every year, during
      benefits enrollment period (here at work), my employer is always pushing for me to add that
      on to my benefits selections.

      If there’s an insurance company behind it, then some other ligitagor is probably telling the
      family ‘Look, the family’s insurance company will just be forced to pay up. Thats what the
      parents bought that policy for. You’re NOT going to hurt a 4YO in any way. Just let me take
      it to court…:”

  8. Sword_Chucks says:

    I blame GTA IV… dang gangsters and their bikes with training wheels

  9. SideshowCrono says:

    I’m surprised I’m saying this given my general hostile attitude towards legislation but…

    Sue her. Make the parents pay. I was almost mowed down myself by a demon on training wheels this morning in the UWS of Manhattan. The kids mom was right there and apparently couldn’t be bothered. While I wasn’t worried about bodily injury at the time, I’d be more worried that the kid would ram me, fall down and I would get sued.

    Parents need to watch their kids better from actual dangers and not the far-off, pie-in-the-sky junk that parents seem to worry about. No one is going to put razorblades in your kids candy but your kid might just get hit by a car. Be careful for the right reasons.

    • SideshowCrono says:

      Ah and by legislation I clearly mean ‘being litigious’.

      Shame on me for trying to work and comment.

    • jshier says:

      If you’re serious, then wow. How exactly could the parents have prevented this? They aren’t the Flash, they couldn’t intervene fast enough once they realized what was going to happen.

      Frankly, it’s not anyone’s fault. It’s an accident, that, due to her age, resulted in the death of a woman. It’s unfortunate, but no one’s at fault here.

      • SideshowCrono says:

        It’s a sad state for America when suggesting someone actually take responsibility for the actions of their children is met with a stunned ‘wow.’

        Watch your kids. If not for the reason that they could hurt other people, then do it because they could easily be hurt. You shouldn’t let a 4 year old be that far out of your sight that you couldnt stop a slow moving bike from hitting a slow moving elderly woman. If you are too far away to prevent that, you are also probably to far away to prevent the truck from running over your child too.

        Shame on those parents.

        • jshier says:

          That’s arms reach you idiot. You really think parents can keep a 4 year old within arms reach all the time? And expecting responsibility from a four year old is laughable anyway. And please, tell me what the parents could have done, aside from not letting their children ride bikes at all?

          • Pax says:

            And please, tell me what the parents could have done, aside from not letting their children ride bikes at all?

            Not allow their children to ride their bikes in violation of NYC law, which (as other commentors have mentioned), apparently precludes the riding of a bicycle on city sidewalks.

            There are parks. There are parking lots. Take your child, and their bike, to one of those. Poof, problem averted.

            But these parents, they didn’t want the hassle of going to one of them, and thought “eh, they can just ride right here, and I won’t have to miss my soap-operas or my neighborhood gossip session”.

            Andnow, they should PAY for that selfish and/or lazy decision.

            • AI says:

              According to NYC.gov, children under the age of 12 are allowed to ride their bikes on the sidewalk.

              Cyclists in New York City must
              1. Ride on the street, not on the sidewalks (unless rider is age 12 or younger and the bicycle’s wheels are less than 26 inches in diameter).

              http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/bicyclists/biketips.shtml

              • Pax says:

                That may absolve the children of the offense of riding their biukes illegally – but their PARENTS aren’t absolved of the repsonsibility of making sure their children were reiding those bikes in a safe and responsible manner.

                Also, prove the bikes’ wheels were “under 26″ diameter”. Even a two-year-old, on a bike with 27″ wheels, can’t ride on the sidewalk. Both conditions must be met, for that exception.

          • El_Fez says:

            Um, oh I don’t know – don’t let them ride down the sidewalk? Take ‘em to a park? That might have been a good start.

            • veronica44 says:

              what makes you think that this couldn’t have happened at a park? its an accident, nothing more nothing less. what if this were your kids, in a park? what if this woman was coming out of her home blocked by bushes and you were walking and bumped into her and she fell. is this an accident or should you have paused at the bushes? people always need to issue blame in order for something to make sense. sometimes it is what it is. i can’t stand suit happy people.

        • Shadowfax says:

          I’m usually right there with you as far as parental responsibility goes. I’m the guy arguing that parents should take their obnoxious kids out of the restaurant/store/whatever until they can behave. I’m the guy saying parents with kids on airplanes suck. Hell, I’m the guy wishing you had to pass some sort of common-sense test in order to have kids.

          But this is a 4 year old girl, and the judge is allowing HER to be sued. So, if you’re for parental responsibility, you should still be somewhat dumbfounded that “parental responsibility” apparently now means “your 4 year old can be sued for acting in a manner consistent a 4 year old.”

          Like I said. Stuff happens. The old lady had just as much responsibility for being aware of her surroundings as anyone else. And had more responsibility for it than the kid, for that matter, since kids of that age are by their very nature unaware of potential dangers.

          This comes down to the same principle as suing someone because you slipped on the icy sidewalk in front of their store. You knew it was cold. You know what happens to water when it gets that cold. You should have been paying attention and avoiding the ice.

          The lady lived for almost 9 decades. There is nothing to indicate that she was unaware that she was not the only person that could possibly ever be on the sidewalk. Therefore, she should have been watching for potential problems.

          Yes, the parents should have been responsible. And for all we know, they were. I’d have to know more details, but if it turns out that they were, in fact, negligently allowing their kid to race down the sidewalk and making no reasonable attempt to stop her, then I’ll be all for suing the ever-loving crap out of them. Bankrupt ‘em for the rest of their lives if you want.

          But suing a 4 year old girl for *anything* is moronic.

        • dragonhunter21 says:

          The kids should be punished, but not in a court of law. They did something irresponsible that may have indirectly caused the death of an elderly person.

      • aloria says:

        They could have prevented it by not letting their kids ride bikes on the sidewalk, which is illegal in NYC for a damned good reason.

    • Shadowfax says:

      Y’know, I agree with you that the parents should be teaching their kids, and at that age, the parents shouldn’t ever have them out of their sight.

      But sometimes, stuff just happens. We don’t know that the parents were negligent here – – a little kid can still ride their bike faster than some adults can run. The parent(s) might have been trying to stop her and couldn’t get to her.

      Additionally, there is a certain assumption of risk that you take upon yourself when you choose to walk in public. You might get hit by people. If you bump into me and accidentally knock me down, that doesn’t mean i should sue you for it, even if I break my arm.

      I certainly sympathize with the relatives of the old lady, but if monetary compensation is enough to make them get over Granny’s death, then they didn’t care much about Granny in the first place. And if they’re doing it to “teach a lesson,” gimme a break. The kid’s 4. They don’t even understand what death IS at that age. At best you’re going to screw the kid up psychologically for years to come by blaming her for murdering someone when it was just a tragic accident.

      • Excuse My Ambition Deficit Disorder says:

        +1 on everything you said…I would just add that the judge should feel ashamed of himself and his ruling. I can guarantee that there is not panel of jurors that would convict a 4 year old for not being responsible enough to ride their bike. I can barely get my 5 year old to wipe her own butt or eat all her dinner….

        • SBR249 says:

          Maybe suing the kid is a bad idea but the parents should bear some sort of responsibility. I understand kids are hard to control and I don’t expect parents to hold kids on a leash, but I would think that some basic things need to be taught before kids are allowed to do certain things. I mean you don’t just leave a loaded gun out in the open where kids can get to it and shoot someone, why not stress bike safety (for rider and pedestrians) and make sure that the kid understands before allowing them to ride outside.

          For instance, maybe the parents could have stressed better that the kids should not ride their bikes at excessive speeds on the sidewalk and that they should pay attention to their surroundings and not ride at people full tilt.

      • aloria says:

        Stuff like getting hit by a kid on a bicycle can’t “just happen” if the parents don’t allow their kids to ride bikes on the sidewalk. It’s ILLEGAL for a reason. There are things called parks that kids can ride bikes in.

        • AI says:

          It’s NOT illegal, because the bike tires were under 26″.

        • Red Cat Linux says:

          Yup. Illegal. Let’s put the 4 year olds out in traffic where they are supposed to be.

          I suvived this as a child on the streets of NYC. Builds character.

          While I agree that there is just way too many Momma’s Speshul Snowflakes out there, and many parents don’t really supervise their little ones well, are we not at the very end of the logic train when we start saying that kids cannot play on the sidewalk in NYC?

          Has anyone heard of the term ‘accident’? The term that describes what happens when bad shit happens to otherwise decent people through no malicious act or true negligence? Can a four year old even HAVE negligence?

          • aloria says:

            There a zillion parks scattered all around Manhattan which are an excellent alternative to letting your kids play in traffic or ride their bikes into pedestrians.

    • Anakela says:

      I was run into a couple of months back while walking down a sidewalk in Astoria. Kid rode his bike into me full-tilt, from the front, no attempting to stop/swerve, crashed into me so hard that he fell off his bike, which landed a foot or so away. He was racing a kid on a scooter, the scooter kid did manage to avoid hitting me.

      When I asked where his parents were, he pointed to a group of people down the street; NONE of the adults in that group had noticed that he was on the ground.

      That’s what I’m picturing in my head when these parents talk about how they were “supervising” these “bike races.”

    • Miss Dev (The Beer Sherpa) says:

      My godmother was riding her bike on a bikepath along a river three years ago when a 9-year-old kid came zooming down an entrance path and ran into her, breaking her wrist. Luckily, her husband was there and grabbed the kid before he took off on his bike (which he tried to do). The boy’s father appeared on his bike a minute later and kept trying to imply that it was my godmother’s fault because she was riding “too slowly.” My godfather filed a police report (it was the boy’s fault, they determined) and had to resort to threatening litigation to get the man to pay for my godmother’s medical bills.

      I’m sorry, but until people who have kids start being parents to those kids, we will see instances like this.

      • dragonhunter21 says:

        I don’t think this was malicious. This seems more like a situation where kids were racing on their bikes and grandma stepped out while the kids weren’t looking. Bam, grandma down. No malicious intent, just an accident. It happens.

    • maruawe says:

      You must be single the best parents in the world cannot watch over children all the time even when the parent is right there…. it is hard to see everything that a child does .

  10. cmdr.sass says:

    Will they garnish his lunch money?

    • AllanG54 says:

      No, but since the child is a minor the parents are responsible and they could be liable for big bucks. Everyone knows the kids should have been riding in the street in the bike lanes.

    • AllanG54 says:

      No, but since the child is a minor the parents are responsible and they could be liable for big bucks. Everyone knows the kids should have been riding in the street in the bike lanes.

  11. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    “appreciated the danger of riding a bicycle into an elderly woman”

    What 4-5 year old thinks to themselves they might posssibly hit an elderly woman on their bike? Worst-case scenario-ing is not in the nature of children.

    I hope they win in appeals.

    • Kanjimari says:

      A 4 year old child who sees one?

      Man, it wasn’t happenstance. The lady didn’t magically poof into existence in front of them, like you seem to be implying.

      • jshier says:

        Is it really that hard to imagine a 4 year old, racing a friend next to her, not looking ahead but rather seeing if they’re winning the race? Besides, for all you know the lady walked out from around a corner or whatnot. There are countless situations where even an adult wouldn’t see it coming, much less a small child.

        • Billy says:

          “Is it really that hard to imagine a 4 year old, racing a friend next to her, not looking ahead but rather seeing if they’re winning the race?”

          That’s called negligence.

          • MaliBoo Radley says:

            Try explaining that concept to a 4 year old.

            • pcPhr34k says:

              +1

            • Billy says:

              I understand that young children may not be able to comprehend and, therefore, are incapable of negligence. But, if a child IS competent (as this judge seems bound by caselaw to rule), then what the child did was absolutely negligence.

              jshier seemed to imply the act of not paying attention, in and of itself, would not be negligence.

              • The Porkchop Express says:

                I thought the case law was for 5 year olds. I think it even said she was 2 months away from being 5. So now the next time case law will be 4 years and 10 months, and then some 4.5 year old will do this and…..

                If you’re sticking with case law, stick with it.

                • Billy says:

                  When I and the court and the caselaw the court cited say “over 4″ it means that she was not less than 4 (ie: this rule is for any child who has achieved the age of 4). This article and the NYTimes article makes that ABSOLUTELY clear.

                  “The child in this case was 3 months under 5.”
                  “…Justice Wooten declined to stretch that rule to children over 4.”

            • Geekmom says:

              The “4” year old was almost 5 years old.

              My kids would never run in to anyone on purpose and watch where they are going. It’s partially because my kids have good natures, but also I actually correct my kids when they do things like this.

              The sad fact is, there are children who will mow down anyone in front of them and thinks it’s funny. They know better, but they do it anyway and their parents just stand there and watch.

              • dragonhunter21 says:

                Oh wow, that’s an exellent point! Almost 5… Why, that’s almost a third of the legal driving age! We should hold them responsible for everything!

                Extrapolating from that, we don’t let people drive until 16, smoke until 18, and drink until 21. Why should we allow anyone younger than, say, 10 operate a bycicle? (They can get a learner’s permit at 8, though, so long as they’re riding tandem with an adult 18 or over.)

        • MaliBoo Radley says:

          I agree with you. Perhaps you meant to reply to “Loias calls you out if you can’t RTFA”.

      • MaliBoo Radley says:

        I’ve seen more than my fair share of little kids (3-4 years old) walk right into doors and shopping carts. If they haven’t got it together in terms of protecting themselves, it’s hardly surprising that they don’t think about others safety.

      • The Porkchop Express says:

        not saying that she did it magically, but did she just turn a corner? come from a doorway? walk on to the sidewalk from between two parked cars?

  12. Tim says:

    Negligence? Is a 4-year-old capable of being anything other than negligent?

  13. Rachacha says:

    I can understand going after the kids if they had intentionally sought to mow down the elderly lady, but in this case, it was simply kids being kids with parents who perhaps should have warned the kids to be cautious of other people (not enough information in the article to say if the parents were negligent).

    Go after kids (and the parents) if they were playing “10 points to the person who can hit and old lady first” game, or if the kids were throwing rocks at a window (if they were of an age that they should know better), but this truly sounds like an accident.

    • skylar.sutton says:

      Your argument is only valid if this was a CRIMINAL case where you have to prove malice.

      The suit is a CIVIL case where the damaged party is seeking monetary restitution for damages inured. Malice does not have to be proven, only damages. Did person x cause $1.23 dollars of damage to person Z? Yes, they did – now person X must repay person Z.

      If you smash your car into someone else they don’t have to prove you did it ON PURPOSE to sue you for the repair bill… they only have to prove that you DID hit them.

    • El_Fez says:

      And if I have an accident – lets say, rear ending someone at a stop light – you can bet your bottom dollar that someone is coming after me and/or my insurance company. I didn’t mean to hit that car, but that’s no defense.

      • oloranya says:

        The difference is that you’re not four years old. Have you ever met four year old?

      • Rachacha says:

        I am not saying that the parents may not be responsible in some way, I am simply saying that assuming the parents were properly supervising the children, and assuming the children did not purposely set out to hit the woman, it was simply an accident

        Using your example, if you rear ended a car while sitting at a stop light, you were likely either not paying attention, or you were following too closely, and if you were found at fault, you or your insurance should pay. Throwing a twist in it a bit, lets assume that there was a patch of black ice in front of you. You pressed your brake to stop, but instead, you slipped and lost control of your vehicle. You were obeying all traffic laws but $h!+ happened. That would be a case of an accident that was no one’s fault

  14. dr_drift says:

    Infant charged with assault for gnawing on woman’s nipple, blames lack of milk.

  15. Alvis says:

    I know they’re just kids, but sidewalk’s for pedestrians, not bicycles.

    • dcarrington01 says:

      Yeah! My parents always told me to go play in the traffic……

    • dr_drift says:

      They should ride on the winding country roads of Manhattan.

    • msbask says:

      Maybe for bike messengers, but are you suggesting that the parents should have let these 4-year olds ride their bikes on the streets of Manhattan?

      Unless there’s evidence that the kid actually was a demon terrorizing people on the sidewalk, it could have simply been an accident. Kids are riding, woman steps onto sidewalk and they collide.

      • aloria says:

        Places like parks exist for a reason, and if you look at a map of Manhattan you might notice there’s an extremely huge one smack in the middle of it.

        • msbask says:

          So what if a little kid rides his bike on one of the paths in Central Park and knocks into an elderly woman? Same scenario. They both have the right to be on the sidewalk, both have the right to be on a path in Central Park.

          I guess the point I was trying to make is that small children ride their bikes on the sidewalk, don’t they? Are their people who actually see something wrong with that? Where I’m from (NY), it’s pretty much a common occurrence to see all the neighborhood kids riding their bikes, yes, on the sidewalk.

      • Pax says:

        Maybe for bike messengers, but are you suggesting that the parents should have let these 4-year olds ride their bikes on the streets of Manhattan?

        I hear Manhattan has this big, wide-open, bike-friendly place called “Central Park”. Maybe the parents shouldhave taken their kids there …?

        • Firethorn says:

          What about old ladies in the park? They’re not necessarily confined to the front of their apartment, after all.

          Also, you seem to be suggesting loading the kids up to take them, possibly taking the subway. Awful lot of hassle for some exercise, and this doesn’t happen that often.

          • Pax says:

            At least in the park, the “old ladies” would know that kids might be riding bikes, playing, or otherwise rushing about, distracted from watching where they are going. IOW, those elderly persons walking in that park would have assumed some degree of risk, shifting liability from the bicycle-rider(s) to themselves. Maybe not all of it, but at least some. Perhaps enough so, that a judge would simply dismiss the case.

    • AI says:

      According to NYC.gov, children under the age of 12 are allowed to ride their bikes on the sidewalk.

      Cyclists in New York City must
      1. Ride on the street, not on the sidewalks (unless rider is age 12 or younger and the bicycle’s wheels are less than 26 inches in diameter).

      http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/bicyclists/biketips.shtml

    • Razor512 says:

      If you want your kids to learn how to ride a bike, remove the training wheels then have them ride away from a city bus, they will learn real fast.

    • maruawe says:

      would you put a child on a bicycle (with training wheels ) on the streets of new york

  16. peebozi says:

    does this mean i can sue my neighbor’s 3 year old daughter for sticking her tongue out at me and causing emotional distress?

    on positive note, it’s open season on stealing candy from babies now!!!

    • Billy says:

      Oh, right. Peebozi.

      Ignore.

    • George4478 says:

      Comparing emotional distress from tongue-sticking to actual physical damages, like death and medical bills?

      Can you sue your neighbor if their kid throws a baseball through your window and they won’t pay for repairs?

      Can you sue your neighbor when their kid scratches your car up by running a rock up and down the side?

      Can you sue your neighbor if their kid knocks the ladder from beneath you when you’re cleaning your gutters and you break your hip in the fall?

      Why should the woman’s family bear the total cost of the kid’s actions?

      This is also why I, as the father of two, have an umbrella policy that covers lawsuits, etc. Fortunately, we made it through their childhood with them causing only minor damage to themselves or others. Nobody DIED.

      • peebozi says:

        yes
        yes
        yes
        yes

        it’s called personal responsibility…are you telling me this lady didn’t see the kids coming at her and couldn’t move out of the way? why won’t anyone take responsibility for their actions. she’s the adult in the situation, she should have yelled at the kid or moved out of the way…she wanted to prove a point a show that she wasn’t going to move for some snot nosed kids. her relatives position on the matter reinforce my point.

        yes, insurance is good.

        now go back to chasing ambulances.

  17. peebozi says:

    i’d love to see the lawsuit the “estate” is preparing against the doctor, er doctors, and hospital.

  18. The cake is a lie! says:

    Please…. I’ve got a 4 year old just under 5. In her world everything gets better with a band-aid. She has no comprehension of how frail old people get. She picks up our cat in a way that I never would because I would be afraid of hurting it. She loves that cat and wouldn’t hurt it, but she doesn’t realize that she could. She jumps on the bed oblivious to what happened to the monkeys who tried that. She crosses the street without looking sometimes unaware that cars may not see her. She is not mature enough to consider the weight of her actions and understand that people could get hurt based on what she is doing. I predict this case will be thrown out on the first petition for dismissal. What a joke…

    • The cake is a lie! says:

      And who are these people who feel good about suing a 4 year old?? Seriously! Sue the parents for not watching their kids, but why drag the 4 year old into it? There should be a counter claim for damages on the child for the rest of her life because she has people telling her she killed an old woman.

      What will they sentence her to? 20 years in day care? I just don’t understand the purpose of naming the child as a defendant.

      • msbask says:

        Could there is a legal reason that they have to, in order to actually go after her parents?

        • The cake is a lie! says:

          Nope. Minors are the responsibility of the parents. I got pulled over for driving without a license while I was practicing for my driving test. My mother got a ticket for it since she knew I was out there driving and knew it was illegal. Parents are responsible for the actions of their children when they have full awareness of what they are doing. It keeps people from using their kids like weapons or little thieves assuming that their kid will do a couple months in juvi if they get caught and that is it.

      • theduckay says:

        Basically the law is effed up and people either hate or don’t understand children.

    • Poisson Process says:

      Mamma called the Dr. and the Dr. said….

    • Michaela says:

      It doesn’t matter. Someone is still dead. Three weeks in the hospital and a surgery aren’t cheap either.

      Also, it seems as if all person’s involved in the situation were sued.

      “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.”

      • MrEvil says:

        a three week stay in the hospital and surgery(ies) the survivors of that woman won’t be on the hook for if her estate can’t cover the debt.

        • Michaela says:

          but, to the family, that is probably money they feel they were cheated out of inheriting.

          I know that it is disgusting, but that is probably how the family sees it.

    • kobresia says:

      Young children don’t have to understand why the rules are the rules, they just have to obey them. It’s up to the parent to be the rational mind and enforcer of restraint. That’s why the parents tell them to ride at what they judge to be a safe speed, and they rush out, scream at their kids to STOP, and do whatever else they need to in order to enforce the rules.

      What does this mean? It means that if the children knew that it was against the rules to ride fast down the sidewalk, but did it anyway, they were wrong. You know the parents’ defense is probably going to be something along the lines of, “Kids will be kids, they were too far away for us to stop, it’s not our fault, they broke the rules, oh well!”, so the way to close that avenue of escape is to hold the kids responsible too. Just like any lawsuit, lawyers will attempt to sue everyone who’s conceivably responsible and hope their case will stick against someone or everyone.

      So there you go. Either the parents are responsible for the bad behavior of their kids due to negligent parenting, or vicariously responsible because their kids’ behavior was exceptionally bad despite “good” parenting. Either way, if there’s any negligence or exceptionally bad behavior involved, the parents are on the hook, as they should be.

    • runswithscissors says:

      You gotta understand. The Commenters on here are overwhelmingly childless and intend to always be childless. Most of them openly hate kids. So any story with kids in it – the kids are evil little sh!ts who should be completely controlled at all times by parents, no matter what. Can’t control them 100% of the time without fail? “Shouldn’t have had kids, breeder!”.

      Just gotta let it go. No winning here.

  19. Destra says:

    A sound ruling under current law. The judge is entirely reasonable. Don’t like it? Draft a bill that changes the common law.

    • The cake is a lie! says:

      What current ruling are you talking about? 4 and under means 4 and under. I don’t get to drink just because I’m “almost” 21. You don’t get senior citizen discounts because you are “nearly” 60. And you don’t get to buy something when you “almost” have enough money. 4 and under is 4 and under.

  20. patjk73 says:

    Does this mean that Granda can now also sue that pesky reindeer?

    • Working for the man, he pays well. says:

      Yes, and Santa, the sleigh manufacturer, the elves for making the sleigh so dang heavy, and the eggnog company for inhibiting grandma’s ability to get out of the way.

  21. ElleAnn says:

    Way to go and traumatize a preschooler over an accident. Remember doing worksheets in kindergarten and first grade where you would cut out pictures and paste them in the correct order? That’s because cognitively children at that age are still getting their minds around the concepts of cause and effect. The girl’s parents need to find an expert on early childhood development to testify on their behalf.

    • peebozi says:

      i agree. unfortunately, this is what liars, er lawyers, do.

      chase ambulance, sue 4 year old girl, trip old man for no good reason, sleep, chase ambulance, sue 4 year old girl, trip old man for no good reason, sleep, chase ambulance, sue 4 year old girl, trip old man for no good reason, sleep, chase ambulance, sue 4 year old girl, trip old man for no good reason, sleep, chase ambulance, sue 4 year old girl, trip old man for no good reason, sleep, chase ambulance, sue 4 year old girl, trip old man for no good reason, sleep, chase ambulance, sue 4 year old girl, trip old man for no good reason, sleep, chase ambulance, sue 4 year old girl, trip old man for no good reason, sleep, chase ambulance, sue 4 year old girl, trip old man for no good reason, sleep, chase ambulance, sue 4 year old girl, trip old man for no good reason, sleep, chase ambulance, sue 4 year old girl, trip old man for no good reason, sleep, chase ambulance, sue 4 year old girl, trip old man for no good reason, sleep, chase ambulance, sue 4 year old girl, trip old man for no good reason, sleep, chase ambulance, sue 4 year old girl, trip old man for no good reason, sleep,

  22. Billy says:

    The judge is in a bad position. He can follow the established caselaw from 1928 that says that children over 4 can be sued. The result of that is that he gets chewed out by people who think it’s ridiculous.

    Or he can extend the rule to children over 4 and he’s labeled an “activist judge”.

    Damned if you do. Damned if you don’t.

    • somedaysomehow says:

      Except that she wasn’t even over 4. She WAS 4. That’s what’s completely insane about this. Well… one of the things that is.

      • Billy says:

        When I and the court and the caselaw the court cited say “over 4″ it means that she was not less than 4 (ie: this rule is for any child who has achieved the age of 4). This article and the NYTimes article makes that ABSOLUTELY clear.

        “The child in this case was 3 months under 5.”
        “…Justice Wooten declined to stretch that rule to children over 4.”

      • Powerlurker says:

        No, the child was 4 years and 9 months, which is greater than 4 years.

    • peebozi says:

      wow…what insight. way to take a stand!! /rolleyes

  23. Excuse My Ambition Deficit Disorder says:

    Okay Mr. Judge…and what exactly do plan on doing to a 4 year old? Charge her for manslaughter and put her away or sue her for all she’s worth. Some one really needs to smack this judge up side the head and ask him what the hell he is thinking. I don’t see anywhere that explains the cause of death as being from the bicycle, but rather the trauma of the surgery. Unless the 4 year old hit her with the bike and then performed the hip surgery….

    Now suing the mothers for negligence…that maybe a different story all together.

    • Billy says:

      “Charge her for manslaughter and put her away or sue her for all she’s worth.”

      It’s a civil suit. Nobody is going to jail for it.

      “Some one really needs to smack this judge up side the head and ask him what the hell he is thinking.”

      The judge was following well-established caselaw from 1928 which allows suits like this to move forward. He’s ethically bound to follow that law and not make up new law from the bench (the Supreme Court in New York is the trial-level court there).

      “I don’t see anywhere that explains the cause of death as being from the bicycle, but rather the trauma of the surgery.’

      That’s what a trial is for. All that this judge did was clear the way for such evidence to be presented.

      “Unless the 4 year old hit her with the bike and then performed the hip surgery….”

      So, according to that logic, the only people who can be found liable for negligence are doctors? The person who injured you can’t?

      • JulesNoctambule says:

        Caselaw from 1928, huh? Kids that age were still dying in factory jobs back then.

        • Billy says:

          Caselaw from 1928 is still good until it’s overruled by new caselaw or by the legislature. Apparently it’s all been good up until now.

          In any event, our country relies on laws and principles much older than 1928.

        • Pax says:

          Case Law from prior to William the Conqueror’s victory in Hastings, 1066 C.E., is still valid.

          Cour precedents don’t have an expiration date.

    • Joseph49 says:

      But for the child hitting the old woman, she would not have fallen, her hip would not have broken, she would not have required surgery, she would not have died as a result of the complications of that surgery.

      The harm was caused by the child hitting the woman, her death may have been a result of the complications due to the surgery, but nevertheless it was a result of the accident.

    • Pax says:

      I don’t see anywhere that explains the cause of death as being from the bicycle, but rather the trauma of the surgery.

      The surgery was required only due to the trauma and injury caused by being run down by the bicycle. A –> B –> C is, in terms of legal liability, almost precisely the same as A –> C.

      • drizzt380 says:

        “The woman suffered a hip fracture and died three weeks after surgery.” -Consumerist Article

        “She died three months later of unrelated causes.” -NYTimes Article

        I have no conflicting statements, so I have to assume that she died 3 months later of unrelated causes.

        The consumerist article is flawed.

        • Pax says:

          Well, the suit isn’t one about wrongful death. It’s about the medical expenses suffered due to the broken hip … which, in turn, was the direct result of the girl colliding with Mrs. Menagh (the elderly victim) while riding her bike.

          Mrs. Menagh herself may not have cared to bring suit … but the Executor or Executrix of her Estate clearly is of a different opinion, and has the legal authority to act upon that opinion on behalf of Mrs. Menagh’s estate.

  24. sjb says:

    May not be seeing the whole story in this, there could be some insurance issues going on in the back ground. Could sort be like if your friend has a accident while on your property and runs up hospital bills; they could have to sue you to get your insurance policy to handle the liability.

    • gemiwing says:

      Yeah, I’m wondering if there’s some sort of higher payout on life insurance if the elderly woman died in a specific way- thus her estate looking to sue to prove accidental death (or something close to that).

  25. Jack Handy Manny says:

    “Can be sued” not the same as “won judgement against”.

  26. pitawg says:

    That kid should sue the old lady’s estate for negligently walking out into pedestrian traffic with a fragile hip, causing emotional distress to a little kid, and extending that distress for the kid and the kid’s entire family’s economic future.

    Kids are going to be kids until these politicians pass their “lock up the kids” bills.

    Suing a local government for relative jumping off of a bridge in a suicide makes as much sense, but no kid to damage in the process.

    • Pax says:

      [...] negligently walking out into pedestrian traffic with a fragile hip, [...]

      So. Elderly, especially women, should never be allowed to leave their homes, if doing so requires setting foot on a sidewalk?

      Because, you know, weakening bones and joints is A NORMAL PART OF AGING.

      But, hey … let’s go with your idea: “Over fifty? HOUSE ARREST for the rest of your now insufficiently-productive life!”

      Yeah. That’s a great idea.

      /facepalm

      • Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

        Sounds like the geriatric was literally on her last leg. A breeze could have knocked her over since she was not using her walker. It was just a matter of time before something happened. No point in blaming everyone else, she was ancient and decrepit. I’m just glad she wasn’t crawling down the freeway in the fast lane with her blinker on. These old people clogging up the sidewalks in NY are a menace. Have you ever walked in NY?!? No mercy! Being 87 years old she should have had the wisdom not to chance lurching into the flow of people on the sidewalk. She should have just stayed on her porch yelling, “Get off my sidewalk!”

      • pitawg says:

        It was not the 4 year old’s decision for the old lady to go out there.

        Kids are always going to be there, and riding bikes for the near future. If the old woman forgot the possibilities, that is a good indication she may need to be looked at for Home living, or at least supervision of a guardian.

      • Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

        Death is a normal part of aging as well; happens every time.

    • Thyme for an edit button says:

      A person DIED and you think the family should have no financial responsibility because it makes them feel bad and means less money for the for the future?

      How about the dead woman’s relatives feelings? What about the money missing in the estate due to medical bills? Fuck ‘em?

      • Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

        Yea, she DIED after the doctors butchered her up. Sue the doctors. She would have lived a lot longer if they hadn’t carved into her and just kept her on a morphine drip. She could have lived for months. When these frail, on the verge of expiring, geriatrics are brought in to the hospital, the doctors need to learn to let nature take its course. Any intervention can mean medical malpractice lawsuits, higher insurance rates, money spent on lawyers defending, etc.

        • Thyme for an edit button says:

          You’ll be excited to learn that if you hurt me and the treating doctor is negligent and causes the injury to get worse, you are still responsible. I could sue just you if i wanted and you could go after the doctor for contribution to pay some of the damages.

        • BluePlastic says:

          You don’t know that. It’s not necessarily the surgeon’s fault if someone dies right after surgery. I mean, it may or may not be, we just don’t know. It seems to me that the bike accident started the injury, not any doctor.

      • pitawg says:

        A person DIED and you want to blame a 4 year old? Which one was with the adult brain and training?

        The lady died from being unable to navigate the traffic. If she was a car, she would not have passed inspection to be allowed on the road.

        • Thyme for an edit button says:

          Did the woman knock herself over? No. The kid crashed into her. The kid was likely most able to avoid this by looking where she was going and stopping. She could have done that where the woman could not jump out of the way. Whether the kid will be held liable remains to be seen. It’s a terrible tragedy all around and it’s a real shame a nearly 5 year old did it.

    • BluePlastic says:

      It’s not okay to lock up kids who are going fast enough on their bikes to knock people over, but it is okay to lock up an elderly person who had the nerve to…wait for it…walk on the sidewalk?

  27. RandomHookup says:

    Call Jack McCoy…he would know how to get a murder conviction on the parents in a case like this.

  28. Aennan says:

    The elderly lady had should have been able to walk on the sidewalk without a bicycle running into her. A bicycle ran into her and cause her harm (physically) which caused her harm financially. Then, she died.

    Even though the child meant no harm, harm was caused. Just because it’s a accident, doesn’t mean that someone should not be held responsible for the harm.

    That someone should be the parents. Suing the child is a strictly legal issue (there is already case law on this) – no one is expecting to get money from the 4 year-old.

    • Geekmom says:

      My guess is she probably did mean harm. I’ve seen spoiled 5 year olds do this sort of thing.
      They think it’s funny to hurt people because their parents won’t correct them or let other people correct them.

  29. framitz says:

    Suing the parents who were supervising the children is appropriate, but a 4 year old child?
    Seems overboard, seems WRONG.

  30. jeepguy57 says:

    Next step for NY: Requiring all children’s bicycles to carry liability insurance.

  31. IThinkThereforeIAm says:

    Risking of repeating others in this thread (and being called in “idiot”) :
    until a child can be held legally responsible fir his/her actions the parents should be.
    No questions, no arguments: when you decided to raise a child you accepted the responsibility. I don’t care how hard it is to control a child, it is the parents’ job

    And yes, I do have a child, and yes, if stuff like that would happen I would accept responsibility. As my parents did for my actions, and their parents did….

    • Groanan says:

      I agree, only on the condition that you are allowed to disown your child to the State / Feds, and that any costs associated with disowning your child could be waived if you are of low-income.

      • IThinkThereforeIAm says:

        Out of curiosity, what would you consider a sufficient enough reason to “disown” your child?

        • Groanan says:

          Children who break and vandalize property wantonly, bully other children, hurt small animals, demand things from adults, and scream in public.

          I know it is probably a normal phase for spoiled children in today’s society, but parents who fear strict liability should be able to opt out, even if it is their own fault (though it will always be a combination of their parenting, random genetics, and society’s influence).

          Perhaps the Milford Acadamy can become a public institution and take them in.

  32. Anakela says:

    (posted earlier as a response, posting again as its own comment)

    I was run into a couple of months back while walking down a sidewalk in Astoria. Kid rode his bike into me full-tilt, from the front, no attempting to stop/swerve, crashed into me so hard that he fell off his bike, which landed a foot or so away. He was racing a kid on a scooter, the scooter kid did manage to avoid hitting me.

    When I asked where his parents were, he pointed to a group of people down the street; NONE of the adults in that group had noticed that he was on the ground.

    That’s what I’m picturing in my head when these parents talk about how they were “supervising” these “bike races.”

  33. theduckay says:

    The people that think its okay to sue a freaking four year old are cracking me up. Seriously? The child has been on this Earth a grand total of 48 months, and you think its okay to sue them. They’re practically babies. The parents are responsible for the child, so sue the parents. The child has no concept of whats going on and shouldn’t be held legally responsible for anything. I don’t think anyone should be suing children of any age. If your parents are still responsible for you until you become an adult, then why can’t they take that responsibility? I understand teenagers…but a FOUR year old? This country is crazy.

    • WalterSinister2 says:

      57 months actually according to the article. Old enough (in the eyes of the law) to negligently kill someone old enough to get sued for it. Face it, she must have known that riding a bicycle full tilt into someone would hurt them.

      Either the kid is old enough to know better, in which case she is liable, or the kid isn’t old enough to know better, in which case the parents shouldn’t have let her ride her bike in the first place. By suing both, the victim gets compensated whether the jury finds that the kid should have known better or that the parents were negligent in letting her ride the bike.

      One reason you always sue everyone is to prevent the lawyer(s) on the other side from convincing the jury to blame whoever you didn’t sue.

      Consider this scenario. If you sue the parents and not the kid, then the parents’ lawyer puts the blame on the kid, the parents get found not liable and the kid isn’t part of the lawsuit. Result, the people to blame for the accident get away without paying for it and the victim gets nothing. This way (sue all) he can’t do that.

  34. Trusso says:

    When a negligence suit is brought, often it’s because the defendant has, or is covered by, a home insurance policy. The suit is a way to get to that policy.

    Further, you need to think about what a lawsuit is. The lady suffered a harm (injury, pain, suffering, death, medical costs, and so on) that was caused by the kids. Should that harm stay with the old lady and her estate or should it be shifted to the children and their families? That is the point of lawsuits.

    • Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

      Is that really the point of lawsuits? I don’t think you can inherit someone’s pain and suffering so suing for monetary damages on those kind of things is silly. The injury and death cannot be shifted to the heirs either. Perhaps the parents of the kids can be found negligent and liable for the medical costs but you know what? If someone dies from an operation I’d say there is a good chance to call it botched and non-billable. It’s like taking a car to get its U-joint replaced and have the mechanic tell you afterward the car will never, ever run again.

      • Trusso says:

        Yes it really is the point of lawsuits. Lawsuits are not, contrary to how they are portrayed publicly, get rich quick schemes. According to what you’ve said (“I don’t think you can inherit someone’s pain and suffering so suing for monetary damages on those kind of things is silly.”) I could harm you through a negligent act (let’s say, not paying attention while driving my car and hitting you as you cross the street) and not be held liable for the pain and suffering you received?

        In the above scenario, let’s say you broke your legs and the courts held me responsible only for the cost of your in-paitent hospital stay. However, as a result of the damage to your legs, you experience constant, although not crippling leg pain, which medicine cannot alleviate.

        I have caused you a harm which you will have to experience until your death (the constant leg pain), but under your world view, I should not be held responsible for the costs associated with that harm.

        You also remark that her injury cannot be shifted to the heirs. That is incorrect–there is a monetary cost to the woman for the treatment of her injuries. It’s not good public policy to hold someone not liable because their victim died. Further, had the lady not been injured, her estate would not have been devalued as it was due to the injury. Shouldn’t the heirs be compensated for that?

        It’s not very compassionate to say compare people to cars, but if we did, your analogy is flawed. If you bring me your car to repair the u-joint (which is a relatively minor repair) and the work I do on your car is so negligent that it will never run again, you’re telling me that it would be equatable to simply not charge you for the repair? Ok, maybe if your car was worth $100. What if it were worth $1000? or $100,000?

        Lawsuits are rarely simple things, but it is important to allocate costs correctly.

  35. The Porkchop Express says:

    I get suing the parents and their insurance (if they have homeowners’ coverage). but actually suing the kid???

    • Billy says:

      According to a comment in the NYTimes article, parents aren’t liable for their children’s actions in NY.

      I’m not sure if it’s true or not, but that might explain it.

  36. Scoobatz says:

    All I know is…when this kid gets older, he has one awesome childhood story to tell. Beats the hell out of getting lost in malls and catching things on fire.

  37. bookman1a says:

    Welcome to punish, sue and pay America where everyone is out to hurt, steal, and screw everyone else. Welcome to the land of the litigation, where intolerance reigns supreme and nobody is spared, not even children.

  38. Puddy Tat says:

    So the child files for bankruptcy and by 10yrs old is able to start building their credit again?

  39. human_shield says:

    Was this an accident or did the child aim for her and do it on purpose? I guess that’s my big question. Will they garnish her weekly allowance?

  40. OnePumpChump says:

    What if it had been the family’s dog that had plowed down the old lady?

  41. JamesBE says:

    Whatever happened to shit just being an accident?

    Suing a four year old for playing on the sidewalk? I hate my country.

    • Thyme for an edit button says:

      Next time someone carelessly hits you with a car and you rack up tons of medical bills, miss wages from work, and suffer severe pain, I am sure you will be totally cool with bearing the financial burden because that shit was just an accident.

  42. Scoobatz says:

    Let me elaborate on one of the sentences in the post.

    The woman suffered a hip fracture and died three weeks after surgery because she was old and people eventually die. No one can be sure this incident had anything to do with a 87 year old person’s death.

  43. Macgyver says:

    How do we even know that the old lady died because of this and not something else?
    Did she look both ways before she walked out?
    Did she try to move out of the way when she seen the bikes coming? If she got hit from the front. It’s NYC, no one get out of the damn way.
    How fast were the kids going?
    Without any witness , they have no case.
    But NYC is crowed, the kids should have been in the park.

  44. SpamFighterLoy says:

    She died THREE MONTHS after surgery, not three weeks.

  45. PsiCop says:

    A stunning victory for trial lawyers everywhere, since it opens up vast numbers of people who can be sued. Way to go.

  46. wonderkitty now has two dogs says:

    What I’m not seeing on these comments is the talk of what “negligence” means. The child would have had to have known that running into an old lady was a very, very bad idea. Now, did the kid know it was probably not a good idea? Yeah, sure. Let’s assume she knew that. But what she didn’t know is that old people break easily, and that it could create life-ending complications. That, I am almost certain, she didn’t know. The kid was reckless, but not like an adult being reckless. There is no possibly way that child thought that running into an old lady would result in the lady’s death. I think suing the child implies that the judge thinks the kid knew better and did it anyway. That would hardly be the case.
    That said, this is a big fail of parenting and the kid thinking, at all. This kid has learned a very hard lesson at a really young age. I don’t think suing her is the right decision. The parents should have to pay for the medical bills, though. That’s just how it is.

    • Billy says:

      The elements of negligence are:

      1. Duty of care
      2. Breach of duty
      3. Factual causation (Direct Cause)
      4. Legal causation or remoteness
      5. Harm

      In this case (this is theoretically the way the case would play out),
      1. the child had a duty to be careful while riding her bike because anyone (not just old ladies) can be in the way.
      2.The kid breached the care by paying more attention to the race than to the people who may be in the road.
      3. But for the breach of care, the injury wouldn’t have occurred.
      4. The injury can be attributed directly (was the proximate cause of the breach).
      5. There were injuries (in this case, death).

      It’s important to note the “eggshell skull” rule. The negligent actor “takes the victim as he finds them.” In other words, as long as the rest of the elements work out, it doesn’t matter that the victim was old and frail and died. The negligent actor is just as liable as if he hit a healthy person who suffered less damage.

      But this is what a trial is for.

  47. Froggmann says:

    “in Manhattan”

    Oh ok that explains it…

  48. rdking says:

    just because you won the right to sue doesnt mean you will win….

  49. Bladerunner says:

    Guys, calm down on the rhetoric about how bad it is to sue 4 year olds. The point here is that in a lawsuit you have to sue EVERYBODY, to prevent someone from managing to shift enough blame to get acquitted. The woman’s estate shoudln’t have to think about the age of the kid, or any of that. They sure as heck shoudl’nt be responsible for the woman’s death, so they asked a lawyer, who will responsibly file against ALL parties involved. The judge followed case law. And that’s how we got where we are.

    And all you people who say “She should expect to get knocked down”, that’s ridiculous. SHE WAS KILLED BY THESE KIDS. Do you really think that there shouldn’t be consequences for that? I’m reminded of those british kids (older and different circumstances of course) who beat that toddler to death… actions have consequences, people.

    • BluePlastic says:

      The NYT made a correction to the article. Apparently, the elderly woman died 3 months after surgery of “unrelated causes,” whatever that means. But I agree with everything else you’re saying wholeheartedly.

      Not to mention…if this kid is “just 4 years old, how could anybody sue her?, yada yada yada.” Okay, if this kid is “practically a baby” and not old enough to take responsibility for running into pedestrians while riding her bike, maybe she’s not old enough to even be on a bike at all unless there is a more sheltered environment, like a park or fenced-in area. Think about what could happen to such a young kid who is on a bike and gets so involved in racing another kid that she doesn’t notice where she’s going. She could have gotten run over by a car so easily.

  50. common_sense84 says:

    Seems reasonable. The kid killed someone. The parents will have to pay.

  51. cheezfri says:

    Sorry I didn’t have time to RTFA but it sounds like maybe her insurance refused to pay her medical bills, based on her injuries being caused by someone else. Therefore, her estate was just trying to collect the money from the girl. A slightly similar thing happened to me; my doctor would not take my health insurance because my injury was caused by an accident that someone else (a grownup) caused.

    Sounds more like if the estate should have gone after anyone, it’d be the parents. Can’t they be held responsible for their child’s behavior? They are *supposedly* the ones with the sense to keep a better eye on their kids. Parents of kids much older than 4 are getting jailed for their child’s truancies.

  52. Chipzilla says:

    Quoting from TFA: “She died three months later of unrelated causes.”

    Umm, so why the f@ck is some asshole suing a 4 year-old kid and/or her parents??

    It’s not like kids that age are trying to re-enact Death Race 2000 or anything…

    It’s a shame somebody died three months later after hip surgery, but shit happens. If the woman in question had fell getting out of the tub and bust her hip, would her kids go after the company who made the tub?

    • BluePlastic says:

      The lady’s insurance company would probably pay her medical bills in the scenario you describe. They would not pay in this instance since it was caused by someone else at fault. I don’t get the idea that the kid is being sued for the death. Legal action is being taken so that her estate can get the medical bills paid by whatever insurance that the kid’s parents have.

  53. Duckula22 says:

    All right, I’ve officially seen it all.

  54. lchen says:

    I never see little kids ridding bikes on the sidewalks of Manhattan, parents usually take their kids to the parks for that. It’s not an outer borough, the foot traffic and car traffic are 10x of what it is in my end of Brooklyn. Since it’s the upper east side I’ll assume everyone involved has money.

  55. Peggee is deeply offended by impetulant, pernicious little snots disrespecting her and violating her personal space at Best Buy. says:

    The elderly woman died three MONTHS afterward, from causes unrelated to this incident. Please check your facts.

  56. gman863 says:

    +1 for the judge.

    Intentionally or not, the 4-year old inflicted serious injury on the victim.

    If there is an age of majority for negligence, what’s next? If a retarded 18-year old had casued the accident, would there be a free pass based on the trainable’s IQ? If a pit bull escaped from the parent’s fenced yard and ate the woman, does the dog get a free pass since its reasoning ability isn’t up to the human level?

    Really, this is a roundabout lawsuit against the 4 year old’s parent(s). Depending on the coverage in their homeowner’s policy, their insurance company may be the deep pockets the lawer is going after.

    • evnmorlo says:

      Hip fracture in an 87-year-old woman is an act of God. And suing a pit bull is also quite ridiculous.

      • gman863 says:

        If the woman trips due to her own inattention and/or an existing medical condition (such as Altzheimers, which happened with my stepmother), it is a no-fault situation.

        If she is forced into falling by a vehicle (tricycle, bike, car or 18-wheeler) while walking on the sidewalk, the only way your theory works is if it could be proven God was riding the tricycle.

        My only point of agreement is (if it is true there was no “cause effect” relationship between the accident and her death) the negligence claim and damages should be limited to the medical expenses and pain/suffering resulting from the accident itself.

      • gman863 says:

        One more note on “suing the pit bull”.

        My point on the pit bull is such an incident is covered by the liability section of most homeowners’ insurance. This liability coverage also usually extends to acts of negligence caused by family members and/or domestic partners who live in the residence. Even if a 4 year old pit bull had been riding the tricycle, the insurance company is still on the hook for damages up to the policy’s liability limits.

  57. Amnesiac85 says:

    I was a bit taken back with this as well. I showed it to a couple law school friends who said this kind of thing happens fairly often. They’d be suing the 4 year old in name only and it would fall upon the parents to pay up, basically.

  58. somegraphx says:

    The woman was 87 years old and died THREE months after the incident of UNRELATED causes. The article states “unrelated” indicating it wasn’t as though she was still weak and recovering from the initial hip fracture. She was 87. How long does one look back at someone to blame? Maybe she died of a heart attack and laughing at a sitcom was the cause. We (or rather the courts) would need to know her medical condition to determine if a three month old incident was a mitigating factor in the woman’s death.

    The judge’s ruling doesn’t imply guilt (or innocence) on behalf of the child, merely that the child was over the child was over the 4 year rule.

    We don’t know the judge’s thinking behind this. He might well have thought the suit was ridiculous, but that allowing it to either settle or go to trial was less of a burden on the courts (and the family fighting the lawsuit) than dealing with an appeal on the age decision.

  59. maruawe says:

    so long to childhood. the judge should be sued for stupidity on the bench..

  60. maruawe says:

    so long to childhood. the judge should be sued for stupidity on the bench..

  61. kagroves says:

    Okay, my only problem with this is the part where it says the woman died three months later of unrelated causes. HELLO OUT THERE! If it is unrelated, that tells you that the cause of death was not related to the bicycle accident. Why is this four year old being sued? Should the parents have been supervising better? Absolutely! That is the issue with parents today. They don’t watch their offspring, they expect the rest of the world to do it. If it were my child, I would be telling them that they don’t ride their bikes on the sidewalk, and if they were, that they were to watch out for people, and if they see anyone coming towards them, they are to stop riding and wait until the person passes them to resume riding. However, I have common sense.

  62. denisem says:

    Parents are responsible for the acts of their children, if you’re not up to the responsibility this entails then don’t have children. This could have been prevented by appropriate supervision by the parents/caretaker. I would like someone to tell me why a FOUR year old is out riding bikes without supervision.

    The judge did the right thing in this case.

  63. sweetgreenthing says:

    I can tell you my four year old would NOT be racing bikes on a busy sidewalk because I’m a better parent than that- but if she was with anyone else that did let her do that I am confident she is not nearly developed enough to know what she was doing could kill someone.
    She thinks any characters on tv that talk are real. She doesn’t believe me when I say the pizza man delivers pizza, as we always pick it up.
    The kid is hardly capable of such forethought.
    I don’t understand how the parents can even be held responsible for a death already determined to be unrelated to the bike crash.

  64. yacobson says:

    In law school here. The reason for this is because, in negligence cases, you sue all parties. Otherwise, they blame each other. It’s simple. Open a casebook.

  65. dragonhunter21 says:

    So far as I’m noticing, he’s not trying to “look smart”. He’s going for that “technically right” bit you mentioned.

    I suppose nobody can take away your right to be wrong, but there are those of us who prefer that you have both sides of the argument before you make judgement.

  66. chaelyc says:

    I clearly remember being 4 (and 5, for that matter) and I can guarantee that running into someone with my trike didn’t really register anywhere on my morality meter. Sure you know it’s not right, but when that rock-solid baby logic shorts out for a second & you do have an accident, you expect the grown up people to be reasonable enough to understand that YOU’RE A CHILD & probably didn’t mean any harm.

  67. huygensbyer says:

    There has to be more to this than the media is feeding us. It’s kinda like how the McDonald’s coffee case got to be held up as an example of an overly-litigious society, but in reality the woman’s legs got third degree burns from spilling coffee on her legs (that means she lost skin, and normally coffee will not hurt you that badly unless you buy it from someone trying to save a few pennies keeping coffee from getting stale).

  68. Wei says:

    Does this mean that someone who is 3 months short of 21 can drink?

  69. Lollerface says:

    Commenters hate kids!

    C’mon, none of you raced bikes down the sidewalk as kids?

  70. BytheSea says:

    These lawsuits happen because insurance companies subrogate against one another or against individuals to recoup their losses when they payout for claims.

  71. BytheSea says:

    The woman’s life or health insurance company may have brought the suit to recover losses from payout. The family’s homeowner policy is probably paying.

    Also, it doesn’t look like this is the ruling for the suit. It’s a ruling that the suit can be brought forward. Basically, this ruling is determining who the defendant is.