A 4 year old girl can be sued.

Congratulations are in order, America!

I’m failing to see the problem here. The judge applied caselaw that has around 80 years of precedent. If the legislature doesn’t like it, it can change the law barring actions against minors below some higher age. Xwing might have more insight given he knows more about NY law than I do (I presume he took the NY bar).

Keep in mind that the girl ran over an old lady, which led to a broken hip. This is extremely traumatic and painful. This required the woman to be hospitalized, undergo surgery, 3 weeks after which she died, most likely from being immobilized in a hospital bed.

I’m not laying the blame anywhere, but the context is pretty serious.

She died 3 months later, that was a mistake in the article.

While I’m aware the injuries sustained by the lady were pretty serious I still find it ridiculous the four year old can be sued. :expressionless: The parent, maybe (and I’m aware the parent would have to pay any damages, anyway, I still think the difference is important), but not the child.

One of the comments said that New York doesn’t have the tort of Negligent Parenting. If true, that would explain why the girl had to be a party to the suit.

3 weeks/3 months in medical terms here doesn’t really matter. A broken hip is frequently a slow and painful death sentence. The law is a stupid, the parents are especially liable since, in the article I originally read on the topic, the mother was present at the time of the accident.

The article specifically said she died of unrelated causes.

The article didn’t say what the unrelated cause was, which makes me suspicious.

An 87-year old does not fully recover from a hip fracture in 3 months.

Like Cless said, the fact they don’t say what she died from is suspicious. Unrelated according to who? Sometimes it may not be obvious, but a lot of bad things can happen when you’re recovering from the fracture and the surgery which follows and while they may not seem obvious at first, they can be related.

I don’t think the estate is suing for wrongful death though. The article makes it sound like all they’re suing for is damages resulting immediately from the accident, that is primarily the medical bills. In fact, reading the slip opinion, the estate is suing only for personal injury, a different tort from wrongful death. So really, when it comes to this lawsuit, it ultimately doesn’t matter whether the four year old girl’s alleged negligence was a contributing factor to decedent’s death.

I was taught in Torts and in NY bar exam classes that children are immune from tort liability until they’re older than four–meaning age five, not just four and eight months. The judge’s opinion flat-out contradicts what I was taught.

Also, children are only liable in tort if a reasonable child of similar age, experience, knowledge and education would have avoided doing the same act. The judge’s reasoning that even a four-year-old should know not to ride a bike into an old lady is pretty sketchy. Maybe the kid knew better than to run down an old lady intentionally, but it seems vastly more likely the kid was just daydreaming, or lost control, or wasn’t very good at bikeriding yet. In other words, even if she knew crashing bikes into old women was bad, I doubt she was savvy or aware enough to recognize the danger and react on the spur of the moment. Kids around 5-6 are rarely liable, because they can always claim they didn’t know better, and the law will take account of that.

Whether the parents were negligently supervising their daughter is totally irrelevant to the analysis of whether the kid is liable.

Cavelcade, you seem troubled by the notion of a poor little girl being sued. But remember the parents would be paying the judgment, even if only the kid is found liable. The policy question is whether it’s better to (1) make innocent victims like the old woman pay for injuries that kids inflict on them, or (2) make the parents pay instead. American tort law rarely leaves victims empty-handed, except when very young children (like this girl) are responsible. This judge’s holding is questionable on the law, but not necessarily bad policy.

Whether the old woman died from the accident or from “unrelated causes” is not terribly important. Either way, we have a negligence action for personal injury, which converts into a survival action for the exact same damages, including pain and suffering. A wrongful death action would at best get some minor economic damages for the family members.

I think the real problem here was the old woman’s osteoporosis issues, given the fact that her hip bone was fractured by a 4yr old on a bike.

Though granted, it only says that the kids were involved in a race. It didn’t say anything about how the kids could build up the speed necessary to fracture a hipbone on their own. For instance, if the incident took place on a hill where physics could compensate for the horse power needed crack a hipbone, the kid wouldn’t have been able to stop the bike anyways without great risk of injury or even death to herself.

My tl;dr is that given the uncertainties the only ones who really show fault here were the parents who let their 4yr olds race on bikes in the first place given the fact that bikes are just as much of a vehicle as automobiles.

Edit: Beaten to a bloody pulp by X-Wing. :thud:

Well this was only an opinion on whether the kid can be sued. It’ll be up to the factfinder to determine whether a reasonable child of similar age, experience, knowledge, and education would have avoided doing the same act. Maybe it’s because my torts class didn’t cover child tort immunity, but I would think the reasonableness standard doesn’t come into play until determining whether the child was negligent, not at the stage of asserting immunity. Or would part of asserting the immunity be that any reasonable child of similar blah blah blah would have acted in the same manner so that the immunity can be seen as a kind of per se not negligent?

To phrase it differently, is child tort liability immunity a brightline rule at a certain age or does a kind of sliding scale exist where certain actions have liability attach as the child gets older?

Thank God we live in a country where people can peaceably and civilly solve their problems through the court system. If this were China, the gov’t would just kill her and her whole family…and if this were one of them Muslim countries she’d probably be dragged through the streets, raped by some old bearded pedophile and then stoned to death.

Killmore: Osteoporosis is quite common as women age. Typically you don’t break your hip from being struck, but from falling down. It is a common injury. Odds are the kid was just riding her bike around, hit her by accident and the old woman, not having super great balance or the ability to weather a strike of any kind, fell. It is impossible for the 4 year old to have been conscious of the consequences of accidentally hitting old people with her bike.

Which is why I find the idea of suing ridiculous. Life sucks sometimes, get over it. >_>

But you can’t sue the pants off of a 4 yr old, or it would be child pornography.

I think you’re trying to judge the merits of the case rather than the more general idea that a four year old can be sued.

The 0-4 year-old immunity is solely a matter of law for the judge – a bright-line rule. The “reasonable child” standard is an issue of fact for the jury, but the judge can find the jury has no reasonable basis to conclude one way or the other. Judges often do interject themselves pre-trial to find for defendants in negligence cases, if the undisputed facts rule out negligence, or plaintiff’s allegations wouldn’t support a negligence finding even if true.

I assume the kid tried to get the case dismissed or to get summary judgment (1) based on the immunity, and separately, (2) because no reasonable jury could find that a 4-year-old kid of similar experience was negligent in these circumstances. I’m surprised the judge didn’t dismiss the case for one reason or the other.

The way I see it, the blame shouldn’t be placed on the 4 year old. It should clearly be placed on the the parents of the child, considering the girl is only 4 years old, the parents should have been keeping a watchful eye one her at all times!