Day 299: 4-year-old on bike can be sued

29 10 2010

A judge in Manhattan has determined that a 4-year-old girl can be sued for negligence. In April last year, two 4-year-olds, Juliet Breitman and Jacob Kohn were racing their bicycles (complete with training wheels) on a Manhattan sidewalk. The mothers of both children were present during the race. According to the New York Times, at some point in the race, the children “… struck an 87-year-old woman named Claire Menagh, who was walking in front of the building and, according to the complaint, was “seriously and severely injured,” suffering a hip fracture that required surgery. She died three weeks later.” Menagh’s estate sued the children and both mothers, claiming they had acted negligently during the accident. Justice Paul Wooten of State Supreme Court in Manhattan permitted the lawsuit. “A parent’s presence alone does not give a reasonable child carte blanche to engage in risky behavior such as running across a street,” the judge wrote.

It’s obviously a horribly tragic situation for both parties. I can certainly understand how upset Menagh’s family would be from the death of their loved one. Although, I can also understand a small child (with a parent’s supervision) racing down a sidewalk with her friend. We all did that when we were kids, didn’t we? And how will that girl feel when she grows up and understands that she killed someone while riding her bike? When I read this article earlier this morning, my first reaction was: “Seriously?! She’s FOUR!” However, now that I’ve had more time to think about it throughout the day, I’m not sure what to think.

Several years ago, my parents were walking in a public park in Tulsa (I think that’s where it was. It was a while ago.) Anyway, as they walked along the path, a cyclist who was riding way too fast for that particular setting, slammed into my Mom and knocked her to the ground. Fortunately, Mom wasn’t seriously injured other than some scrapes and bruises. As my Dad helped her up, the cyclist (I think her name was “Bitch on Wheels”), yelled at my Mom because she broke her cycle-computer. No “are you okay?” Or, “I’m sorry, I didn’t see you.” She just cussed out my Mom, picked up her bike (which was fine) and rode away. (Mom, I’m glad you’re okay, but I wish I’d been there to give her an earful of some choice words that might have curled her hair.)

I’m not sure what the “law” would say in that kind of situation (with adults), but it seems if there are pedestrians in an area (such as a park), then it should be up to the cyclist to ride responsibly. When I ride through Cherokee Park or downtown where pedestrians are present, I keep an eye out for other people, and I always have my hands on the brakes in case I need to slow or stop suddenly. But what if the “cyclist” is a small child who really doesn’t comprehend the safety issues or understand the repercussions of her actions?

There seem to be quite a few unanswered questions in this case. What are your thoughts? Should the kid be held liable? Should the parents? Who do you think is at fault?

Today’s food journal:

Breakfast:
— Whole wheat english muffin = 1 point
— Peanut butter = 2 points
— 1 banana = 1.5 points

Lunch:
— 1/2 turkey sandwich on whole wheat = 3 points
— Salad with Ranch dressing = 4 points
— Sun Chips (multigrain) = 4 points
— Iced tea = 0 points

Snack:
— Apple = 1 point

Dinner:
— Soft pretzel = 10 points
— Iced tea = 0 points

Snack:
— Skinny Cow ice cream bar = 2 points

Life’s a journey. Enjoy the ride.

           _O
        \<,
…( ) / ( )

Thanks for visiting.

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