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Published On: Tue, Nov 2nd, 2010

New York Judge rules that 4-year-old can be held accountable for death due to accident

A New York judge ruled that a 4-year-old girl who accidentally hit and killed an older woman with her bicycle can be sued for negligence.

According to recent articles in the New York Law Journal and the New York Times, Justice Paul Wooten of State Supreme Court in Manhattan has permitted that a lawsuit against two children and their parents be allowed to move forward.

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Back in 2008 two children, apparently racing their bicycles, struck 87-year-old Claire Menagh, who then broke her hip and died 3 months later. The estate of Menagh has sued both the children and their mothers for negligence.

 

When the defense of the girl argued that the girl should not be held accountable, and that New York law prevents the prosecution of children under 4, Justice Wooten countered about the girl’s age.

“For infants above the age of 4, there is no bright-line rule,” Wooten wrote, adding that the girl had been three months shy of turning 5.

He also said that because she was not lacking in “intelligence or maturity” it followed 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.”

“A parent’s presence alone does not give a reasonable child carte blanche to engage in risky behavior such as running across a street,” Wooten wrote. He added that “the term ‘supervising’ is too vague to hold meaning here.”

Wooten concluded by writing that there was no indication or evidence that “another child of similar age and capacity under the circumstances could not have reasonably appreciated the danger of riding a bicycle into an elderly woman.”

Douglas Menagh’s lawyer, David Kownacki, noted insurance companies would be responsible for any damages awarded.

“It’s not coming out of the kids’ pockets or their mothers’ pockets,” Kownacki said.

 

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- Stories transferred over from The Desk of Brian where the original author was not determined and the content is still of interest of Dispatch readers.

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