The New York Law Journal reported last Thursday that a Manhattan State Supreme Court Justice has ruled a 4-year old girl accused of running down an elderly woman on a Manhattan sidewalk two years ago can be sued for negligence.
The suit, allowed by Justice Wooten, followed claims that in April 2009, Juliet Breitman and Jacob Kohn, who were both 4 at the time, were racing their bicycles, under the supervision of their mothers, Dana Breitman and Rachel Kohn, on the sidewalk of a building on East 52nd Street. At one point during the race, the children ran into an 87-year-old woman named Claire Menagh, who was walking in front of the building. According to the complaint, the woman was “seriously and severely injured,” suffering a hip fracture that required surgery. She died three months later of unrelated causes.
Menagh’s estate later sued the children and their mothers, claiming they had all acted in negligence. In a response, Juliet’s lawyer, James P. Tyrie, argued “[the child] was riding her bicycle with training wheels under the supervision of her mother” — and was too young to be held liable for negligence.
In his decision, Justice Wooten wrote that although Juliet’s lawyer was correct that children under the age of 4 are “conclusively presumed incapable of negligence, “Juliet was indeed over the age of 4 at the time of the incident, and he also noted “there is no bright-line rule.”
What do you think? Is this just—or just plain absurd?!