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New York Judge Rules 6-Year-Old Can Be Sued

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the court-is-more-interesting-than-kindergarten-anyway dept.

United States 799

suraj.sun sends this snippet from Reuters: "A girl can be sued over accusations she ran over an elderly woman with her training bicycle when she was 4 years old, a New York Supreme Court justice has ruled. The ruling by King's County Supreme Court Justice Paul Wooten stems from an incident in April 2009 when Juliet Breitman and Jacob Kohn, both aged four, struck an 87-year-old pedestrian, Claire Menagh, with their training bikes. Menagh underwent surgery for a fractured hip and died three months later. In a ruling made public late Thursday, the judge dismissed arguments by Breitman's lawyer that the case should be dismissed because of her young age. He ruled that she is old enough to be sued and the case can proceed."

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What is the point? (-1, Troll)

elucido (870205) | more than 3 years ago | (#34072882)

Not to sound cruel, but at 87 years old she was expected to die any day any minute.

Re:What is the point? (4, Insightful)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 3 years ago | (#34072912)

If I would have intentionally rammed my bicycle into anyone at the age of 4 years and 9 months I would have received, at a minimum, corporal punishment.

Of course today that would probably get my parents sent to jail.

Re:What is the point? (1, Interesting)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 3 years ago | (#34072996)

I live in Europe where (almost) everybody has insurance (civil resposibility) against such things, but only if the parents admit having done something wrong during the supervision of their kids.

If they did everything right and the kid does damages, the victim has to sue the kid.

Since most kids don't have any income, you may have to wait a long time to get your money.

Re:What is the point? (3, Interesting)

Zumbs (1241138) | more than 3 years ago | (#34073024)

But it also means that the debt will be collecting interest for a long, long time before payments can start. If the parents aren't wealthy enough to pay up, the child may end up with a debt so large that it will be unable to pay it. Ever. Because it did something stupid at age 4.

Re:What is the point? (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 3 years ago | (#34073084)

If they did everything right and the kid does damages, the victim has to sue the kid.

And it will be the parents (or rather the parents insurance) who will pick up the bill.
If there is no insurance, it will be the parents who will have to pay.
At least that is how it is done in Belgium.

Re:What is the point? (1)

Chaos Incarnate (772793) | more than 3 years ago | (#34073220)

Why should the parents inherit the fiscal sins of the child if not the judicial? If they're not responsible enough to be sued on the child's behalf, how are they suddenly responsible for the child's debts?

Re:What is the point? (2, Informative)

jps25 (1286898) | more than 3 years ago | (#34073172)

Maybe, just maybe, you should specify which country you live in, not which continent.
I live in Germany, and you can do fuck all to a 6 year old. A 6 year old could throw in your window and nobody, not the kid nor the parents would have to pay.

Re:What is the point? (0, Troll)

Surt (22457) | more than 3 years ago | (#34072992)

So as long as I only murder sufficiently old people, I really shouldn't be held accountable by the legal system?

Re:What is the point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34073038)

If you possess the body of a 4-year-old child and run into them with your training bike and hope they die after surgery months later, then sure.

Good luck with that.

Re:What is the point? (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 3 years ago | (#34073100)

Right. It's based on the age of the perpetrator, not the victim.
Duh.

Re:What is the point? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34073048)

So as long as I only murder sufficiently old people, I really shouldn't be held accountable by the legal system?

No but hows about we wait until the individual is old enough to understand the concept of life and death before we take them to court for murder. 4-6 years is NOT old enough.

Re:What is the point? (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 3 years ago | (#34073090)

That's fine. I only objected to rejecting the case based on the age of the victim. Rejecting a case based on the age of the perpetrator is perfectly fine.

Re:What is the point? (1, Funny)

y86 (111726) | more than 3 years ago | (#34072998)

Sounds like a systemic issue. If she was so frail that a 30 pound 4 year old could kill her she should of been in a facility. The kids shouldn't of been in a public place where they were a nuisance and a danger to others. That should probably be a fine of 20$. If you want to live in a place without the proper areas to ride bikes your kids don't get to ride bikes.

Re:What is the point? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34073070)

Hey everyone, it's Captain Hindsight here to save us! Thanks Captain Hindsight!

this is the point (0, Flamebait)

viralMeme (1461143) | more than 3 years ago | (#34073140)

You cold calloused bastard, the collision and operation was a major contributing factor. Lucky, in your future, you can look forward at 87, to forced euthanasia and your nutrients being used as fertilizer. Who modded this up Score:5 Insightfull

Re:What is the point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34073170)

Cruel or not - at age 87, the woman should be able to determine that she might not withstand a thrashing from a 4 year old, and take appropriate measures. She could have stayed across the street from the kids. She could have stayed home. She could have shot first, and asked questions later. She could have run over the kids first. But, NO! She PERMITTED the little rascals to run her down.

Life sucks, and life is short. This little old lady was at or near the end of her sucky life. Her family should be grateful that she went out in a relatively clean manner, rather than lying abed for years, slowly being eaten up with cancer.

For that matter, maybe the old lady feared cancer, and chose "Suicide by Trike"!

Re:What is the point? (1)

Andy Smith (55346) | more than 3 years ago | (#34073190)

...and her life had exactly the same value as yours.

Re:What is the point? (1)

MrHanky (141717) | more than 3 years ago | (#34073196)

Besides, she can't sue anyone as she is dead. The lawyers, on the other hand, deserve the right to make a living from what they do best: hog the legal system with pointless lawsuits against people who can't argue their own case. Thus: the need for more lawyers! I suspect this ruling was made in solidarity with Supreme Court Justice Paul Wooten's dear colleagues.

...what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34072888)

I have no words for this.

Wait what? (5, Insightful)

Chas (5144) | more than 3 years ago | (#34072892)

Okay, a pair of four year olds on their bikes. Accidentally hit an old lady.

And they're going to sue the four year olds?

Okay guys. It really IS time to kill all the lawyers.

*Grabs a gun*

Re:Wait what? (4, Funny)

yorugua (697900) | more than 3 years ago | (#34072914)

They are just building up a business model for bike insurance

Re:Wait what? (0, Troll)

Capt James McCarthy (860294) | more than 3 years ago | (#34072962)

Okay, a pair of four year olds on their bikes. Accidentally hit an old lady.

And they're going to sue the four year olds?

Okay guys. It really IS time to kill all the lawyers.

*Grabs a gun*

What if it wasn't accidental? That will be determined. I too hate the litigious nature of folks now days, but sometimes it may be the only way to have others take responsibility for themselves.

To quote the judge, and I agree with it.

"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."

Re:Wait what? (5, Insightful)

Nursie (632944) | more than 3 years ago | (#34073058)

What if it wasn't accidental?

The kid was 4!!

Re:Wait what? (0, Troll)

immaterial (1520413) | more than 3 years ago | (#34073078)

It doesn't really matter whether or not it was accidental; people still have responsibility for their actions. To use he inevitable car analogy, if I cause an accident in my car I don't get to just shrug my shoulders and say, "well shit, it was just an accident. Why should I pay for the damage?"

Re:Wait what? (1)

arose (644256) | more than 3 years ago | (#34073108)

This is not a car, the amount of force doesn't even begin to compare, this is walking into someone by accident.

You left off part. (4, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 3 years ago | (#34073150)

This is not a car, the amount of force doesn't even begin to compare, this is walking into someone by accident.

... walking into someone by accident WHEN YOU ARE FOUR.

Remember, this is an age group that still pees or poops itself when out playing.

Re:Wait what? (1)

immaterial (1520413) | more than 3 years ago | (#34073216)

Once again, that's not relevant (though as someone who used to wear holes in his Big Wheels from speeding down hills, I should point out that kids can get quite a bit of steam given the right circumstances). They caused an accident, and can be held financially liable for the consequences (medical bills, etc.). Now, given their age I think their parents should be the ones held responsible, but I didn't write the law.

Re:Wait what? (3, Insightful)

Surt (22457) | more than 3 years ago | (#34073148)

However, traditionally in our court system young minors cannot have responsibility for their actions because they lack the cognitive capacity to understand the consequences of their actions. Their brains simply haven't developed enough, it's not a case of 'parents didn't teach them right', it's just plain-old physically impossible. Now I could understand holding the parents responsible: they should have ensured there was a safe play environment, but that doesn't seem to be what is happening here.

Re:Wait what? (2, Insightful)

MrHanky (141717) | more than 3 years ago | (#34073218)

The car analogy is as inevitably stupid as it is inevitable.

Re:Wait what? (2, Insightful)

Surt (22457) | more than 3 years ago | (#34073130)

Unless the parent aimed that 4 year old at the old lady, there wasn't anyone responsible. A 4 year old simply doesn't have the brain complexity to form a criminal level of intent.

Re:Wait what? (1)

Capt James McCarthy (860294) | more than 3 years ago | (#34073154)

Unless the parent aimed that 4 year old at the old lady, there wasn't anyone responsible. A 4 year old simply doesn't have the brain complexity to form a criminal level of intent.

#1 This is not a criminal case.

#2 You underestimate the cognitive capabilities of children

Re:Wait what? (4, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | more than 3 years ago | (#34073134)

No 4 year old can be expected to be reasonable though. The age of reason is closer to 7. It looks like the judge fails the reasonable adult test.

Re:Wait what? (5, Funny)

magarity (164372) | more than 3 years ago | (#34072976)

It really IS time to kill all the lawyers

No, don't worry, the little girls will be OK in the end. Their lawyer will in turn sue the bicycle manufacturer because there wasn't a sticker on it saying 'WARNING: DO NOT RUN OVER OLD PEOPLE'.

Re:Wait what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34073116)

Maybe the kids were busy using mobile phones!

Re:Wait what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34073118)

Too bad 4-year olds generally can't read warning labels. If they could, and comprehend them, they would never scream for new toys again.

Re:Wait what? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34073050)

Okay guys. It really IS time to kill all the lawyers.

Is this the problem with the lawyers, or is this a problem with the judge?

I never understood how the justice system is supposed to deal with insane judges. All these talk of checks and balances, but I see nothing to stop an insane judge making years of peoples' life hell for making judgment like this.

Yeah, eventually the ruling may be overturned in higher courts (assuming it is not the judge in the highest court making insane rulings!), but years of your life would be ruined, assuming you don't get any other permanent harm done to you.

How much money would the parents of these kids waste because of this insane ruling? Would they be financially ruined even if eventually they "prevail", such as finally lucky enough to encounter a sane judge? Would these money wasted mean these kids will never have a chance to have a decent education?

Ruling != Legislating (4, Informative)

flaming error (1041742) | more than 3 years ago | (#34072896)

The law (which he probably didn't write) says that accountability starts at four years old. The child was four.

What else was the judge supposed to do?

Re:Ruling != Legislating (3, Informative)

johncalvinyoung (1864782) | more than 3 years ago | (#34072944)

My understanding is that previous jurisprudence stated that a child under four could not be ruled accountable. This, however, did not say anything about the degree or nature or permissibility of such a ruling for ages four and above.

Re:Ruling != Legislating (5, Informative)

Loadmaster (720754) | more than 3 years ago | (#34073156)

Previous rulings have held that there is a sliding scale of responsibility between 4 and, I believe, 12. At four a child is presumed to not be capable of fully understanding their actions so it is on the plaintiff to prove that this particular four year old did understand. A very tough task indeed. At 12, the burden is on the defense to prove that this particular child could not understand his/her actions.

The big decision in this case was that the parents cannot be sued. Now the plaintiff is going to have to prove that a four year old on her training wheeled bike, racing another child, was cognizant of the ramifications of her actions of riding on the sidewalk. Good luck with that.

Re:Ruling != Legislating (2, Insightful)

arth1 (260657) | more than 3 years ago | (#34072948)

Article 40 of the Convention of Children's Rights says:
"Governments are required to set a minimum age below which children cannot be held criminally responsible and to provide minimum guarantees for the fairness and quick resolution of judicial or alternative proceedings."

When the article was written, I am pretty sure that the signers didn't envision that 'tis of thee would set that minimum age at *four*. That's just ridiculous. 14 is the common standard, as far as I can tell.

Re:Ruling != Legislating (2, Informative)

XaXXon (202882) | more than 3 years ago | (#34072966)

This isn't a criminal investigation, though.

Suing is civil.

Re:Ruling != Legislating (2, Informative)

flaming error (1041742) | more than 3 years ago | (#34073016)

Aren't you ignoring half of what he quoted?

and to provide minimum guarantees for the fairness and quick resolution of judicial or alternative proceedings.

Re:Ruling != Legislating (1)

Loadmaster (720754) | more than 3 years ago | (#34073094)

No, you are just misreading the quote. The judicial or alternative proceedings refers to criminal matters, not civil.

Re:Ruling != Legislating (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 3 years ago | (#34073032)

Many (if not most) countries don't have a double jeopardy system for criminal actions where you can be prosecuted *and* sued for the same action, and I'm pretty sure that the intent of the CCR was that the children would be protected from being held responsible for criminal actions, just as the text says, no matter whether the prosecution is by the public or a lawyer with a slit in his suit for the dorsal fin.

(How come that anything called "civil" is far from?)

Supposed to do? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34072952)

Use his brain. Four year olds can't by any stretch of the imagination be held accountable.

Sue the parents (although I don't advocate that at all) but not the kid. What if she is found guilty, then what? Will she be send to jail for manslaughter or something like that?

Get real, wake up and fix this legal system. As said in a post above, killing the lawyers is a good first step in the right direction.

Re:Supposed to do? (1)

Leebert (1694) | more than 3 years ago | (#34073026)

Use his brain.

I'm sorry, but I don't want to live in a country where the judge can decide that they don't like a given law and ignore it.

Re:Supposed to do? (4, Insightful)

flaming error (1041742) | more than 3 years ago | (#34073088)

> Use his brain. Four year olds can't by any
> stretch of the imagination be held accountable.

I think you underestimate the power of imagination.

But the main point is, you're right. We all think it's crazy to pin a woman's death on a toddler riding a bike with training wheels.

We also think it's crazy to blame the victim, an 87 year-old woman who may not have had full situation awareness and may have lacked the agility to evade a collision.

It's also hard to blame the mom - she let her kid ride a bike, which I think our culture considers benign.

The truth is that this was an accident. What's broken here is that somebody has decided to sue unwitting participants for an accident best blamed on happenstance and chaos.

Re:Supposed to do? (1, Flamebait)

Surt (22457) | more than 3 years ago | (#34073212)

I don't find it hard to blame the mom. An accident is a foreseeable consequence of letting a 4 year old ride a bike unattended. 87 year old ladies don't spring out of nowhere.

Re:Ruling != Legislating (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34072964)

If you hit someone with a car or, hit them with a wrench and they die- Even if you don't mean to...aren't there /charges/ filed?

If the law says they're accountable at 4 years old, shouldn't the law follow through?

If you're going to be dumb, may as well go all the way. It's a kid on a bicycle. Unless it was on fire, with a cow catcher in front....

Re:Ruling != Legislating (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34073092)

If you hit someone with a car or, hit them with a wrench and they die- Even if you don't mean to...aren't there /charges/ filed?

This is not a car or wrench. This is the equivalent of bumping into someone on the sidewalk.

Re:Ruling != Legislating (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34073208)

Where the person on the side walk ended up being killed as a result.

Re:Ruling != Legislating (5, Insightful)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 3 years ago | (#34072994)

The law (which he probably didn't write) says that accountability starts at four years old. The child was four.
What else was the judge supposed to do?

Exercise judicial review of incompetent legislation?
Exercise judicial assessment of a meritless suit?

The position of "judge" is not a clerical one, tasking the person to do whatever they're assigned to do. As the title implies, it's a job that calls for the exercise of "judgment".

Re:Ruling != Legislating (3, Insightful)

hjf (703092) | more than 3 years ago | (#34073186)

This is slashdot, we're computer nerds. Guys here seem to think about law as "orthogonal", cause-and-effect, etc.

Guess what guys: it's not. It's quite subjective. That's why there are appeals.

huh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34072898)

I can't figure out why America is on a downward spiral

Re:huh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34072946)

I believe the minimum age in Sweden to be sued is two months old (through precedent).

Please File Things Under Idle Where They Belong (1, Informative)

rsmith-mac (639075) | more than 3 years ago | (#34072902)

Hey Soulskill, please file things under Idle where they belong. This is not News For Nerds nor is it Stuff That Matters, so it doesn't belong on the Slashdot frontpage.

What happened to accidents? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34072908)

What happened to accidents? It seems that everything in life needs to be controlled, somebody is accountable. There is no space for accidents, so somebody got to hang, that's when it comes to small girls. But when you talk about serious crimes like foreclosure fraud and the wall street fraud then they don't press charges because 'they might find the culprit'.

Re:What happened to accidents? (4, Informative)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 3 years ago | (#34072926)

There is no space for accidents, so somebody got to hang, that's when it comes to small girls. But when you talk about serious crimes like foreclosure fraud and the wall street fraud then they don't press charges because 'they might find the culprit'.

It's very simple: there's one set of rules for the peasants and another set of rules for the aristocracy.

Guess which group you fall into?

Macaulay Culkin. (2, Funny)

leuk_he (194174) | more than 3 years ago | (#34072940)

blame Macaulay Culkin for this. YOu can see what a disaster a young child can cause.

PS, this was typed by my dog. Sue him!

Re:What happened to accidents? (1, Insightful)

immaterial (1520413) | more than 3 years ago | (#34073046)

Accidents don't mean no responsibility. If I crash my car into yours accidentally I'm still responsible for the damage. Now, since we're talking about a very young kid I think the parents should shoulder the responsibility (much like they would if their dog had run the old lady down) but apparently the law says otherwise.

Old enough to be sued - old enough to vote (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34072920)

If you're old enough to be sued you should be old enough to vote and vice versa. People who have grievances with a child should sue the guardian or supervisor of the child. In most cases the problem with a child should probably be dismissed as an accident. (Children are little walking accidents after all.)

Always about finding the deep pockets (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34072924)

Any judgment will be paid in doodie.

What are they going to do? (1)

Archeleus (1840908) | more than 3 years ago | (#34072930)

No more candy for 4 years?

Re:What are they going to do? (1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 3 years ago | (#34073010)

This is a law suit, not a criminal charge. The plaintiffs want money.

Re:What are they going to do? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34073192)

How much money does a 6 year old have?

Common sense (1)

Martz (861209) | more than 3 years ago | (#34072932)

One can only hope common sense prevails. 4 year old kids are still learning that their actions have repercussions.

The woman who has died will not benefit from the court case, just her immediate family who are trying to gain financially from her demise.

Dumb question, but still; (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34072942)

Who's behind the "accusations", and why are the kids being sued?

I don't know anything about American law, but if the accident caused the woman's death (though indirectly), this would be a criminal case, no?

Re:Dumb question, but still; (1)

magarity (164372) | more than 3 years ago | (#34073060)

Who's behind the "accusations", and why are the kids being sued?

I don't know anything about American law, but if the accident caused the woman's death (though indirectly), this would be a criminal case, no?

If there's no criminal prosecution either because it fails or the public prosecutor realizes there's no way to win then the case can become a civil case. Just look at the notorious OJ Simpson case. He wasn't convicted for killing his wife but her family won a civil case against him. This case has skipped straight to the civil suit because the police and public prosecutor have more sense than to try to charge little girls on bicycles with homicide.

Weird. And then what? (5, Insightful)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 3 years ago | (#34072954)

1. Haul 6 year old girl into the court.
2. ???
3. Justice!

It's bizarre. If they judge her, then what?

She can't be sent to prison, has no income to pay a fine, and I doubt very much she can be made to perform community service. So I'm just wondering.

Also, there's this:

Wooten also disagreed with the lawyer's assertion that Juliet Breitman should not be held responsible because her mother was supervising the children at the time.
"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."

But running around is what 4 year old children do. I think pretty much everybody has noticed that young children have some problems with fine motor control and are ocassionally running into people while playing. They're children, they haven't completely figured it yet. What are the parents supposed to do, keep them on a leash?

Re:Weird. And then what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34073022)

Perhaps she can declare bankruptcy and have any debt cleared?

Re:Weird. And then what? (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 3 years ago | (#34073030)

I think pretty much everybody has noticed that young children have some problems with fine motor control and are occasionally running into people while playing. They're children, they haven't completely figured it yet.

I had a similar problem trying to learn to snow-board as a very-full-sized adult. Sometimes I'd end up wayward and had to shout the warning: "Amateur Alert! Watch out". I couldn't just crash myself into the snow because the board would keep going, and those things are like knives. I was thus stuck trying to steer the best I could.

Re:Weird. And then what? (1)

johanatan (1159309) | more than 3 years ago | (#34073174)

Umm, you're doing it wrong. Snowboards have bindings which you're supposed to attach to your boots. And, if that isn't enough, they also have a safety cord to attach to something secure (like one of the bootlaces).

Re:Weird. And then what? (1)

Nemyst (1383049) | more than 3 years ago | (#34073144)

Children below age 8-9 don't even really get the sense of "right" and "wrong". How in hell can you sue someone who doesn't even grasp that?

The parents should be the ones sued, if any, but an accident is what it is. They probably couldn't have avoided that kind of thing.

Re:Weird. And then what? (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 3 years ago | (#34073222)

You don't send people who are sued to jail regardless of age. That requires a criminal proceeding, not a civil one.

Bands of 4yo's operating mobile death panels.. (-1, Troll)

yossie (93792) | more than 3 years ago | (#34072958)

Little known provision of Obamacare is empowering 4yo's to determine when an individual is no longer worth the medical insurance cost to keep them alive and take matters into their own hands. The administration will neither confirm nor deny these allegations..

The settlement: Three cookies and two matchbox (1)

assemblerex (1275164) | more than 3 years ago | (#34072980)

cars. His noontime snacks are garnished by three grapse for the next six lunch periods.

The case can proceed (1)

camg188 (932324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34072982)

but I'd like to believe that they won't win the suit.

Just around the corner: (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 3 years ago | (#34072984)

Soon an infant will be sued for puking on the ground, causing somebody to slip and bust their ass.

Pardon my language and lack of depth, but.. (4, Insightful)

xh3g (213494) | more than 3 years ago | (#34072988)

It's shit like this, America.

RIAA involvement? (1)

Cyko_01 (1092499) | more than 3 years ago | (#34072990)

the RIAA must have something to do with it! was she listening to pirated music on her mp3 player when she hit the lady?

Is this judge competent to conduct trials? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34073006)

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."

This judge either just arruved from Mars or is a complete imbecil. I don't know a single 4 year old that would appreciate the consequences of riding a bicycle into an elderly woman/oncoming 18 wheeler/100 foot crevice (feel free to add your obstacle here). Besides, based on does he think that a 4 year or even 6 year old kid is competent to stand trial?

Re:Is this judge competent to conduct trials? (1)

petrus4 (213815) | more than 3 years ago | (#34073182)

Yes, but this is the problem. In contemporary society, the judge is the final authority. In other words, it doesn't matter if a judge is insane; what they say goes, regardless.

Only in America.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34073008)

.... could such bullshit happen.

For fucks sake : THEY ARE CHILDREN. ALMOST STILL BABIES.
I think that is the stupidest decision I have ever read. In no civilised country could children of that age be accounted for anything.

No, sorry. The biggest bullshit would be if they would be accused of murder 1st degree and grilled on the electric chair.

Once upon a time, I adored the USA, but Judges like him turns the States into just one thing : a big fat joke.

What can they get from a 6 year old kid any ways? (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#34073012)

What can they get from a 6 year old kid any ways?

Re:What can they get from a 6 year old kid any way (1)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 3 years ago | (#34073040)

What can they get from a 6 year old kid any ways?

FTFA:

The decision also will allow for the lawsuit to proceed against the Kohn family for the incident.

That's the thing, you can sue until you're awarded gagillions of dollars - now go and try to collect it.

Re:What can they get from a 6 year old kid any way (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#34073074)

What can they get from a 6 year old kid any ways?

Nothing. But they may be able to get whatever the parents have. And, of course, the endless satisfaction many adults receive from destroying the lives of small children.

Even if these kids did do this maliciously, they're kids. They aren't expected to have an adult's sense of, well, anything, including empathy and right or wrong. Not at age 4, for fuck's sake.

Re:What can they get from a 6 year old kid any way (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 3 years ago | (#34073126)

What can they get from a 6 year old kid any ways?

I suspect, that they want something from the parents, FTFA:

Wooten also disagreed with the lawyer's assertion that Juliet Breitman should not be held responsible because her mother was supervising the children at the time. "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."

It sounds to me like another case of not-quite-up-to-snuff parental supervision. But anyway . . .

My cousin is a lawyer who litigates, and I have had numerous contacts with lawyers from my employer. The fact is, I will never get sued, because I have no money, or, what be considered by them as chump change. Now, my employer, legions of lawyers would drool at the chance to sue them. They chase the money, simple as that.

So if a 6 year old is getting sued . . . you can bet that lawyers have their sights on the parents' assests.

Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34073018)

You can read up on the attorney who filed it here: http://ctfamlaw.com/profile

insanity (1)

Gen. Malaise (530798) | more than 3 years ago | (#34073056)

If it were my kids I would tell the judge that they are not guilty by reason of insanity....

Mommy, I'm Bankwupt! (3, Interesting)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 3 years ago | (#34073062)

"Here's my cwayons, my huggy bear, my Dora The Explorer backpack, my woller skates, and my puppie, Snookie. Datz all I have, Mam."

Suing a 6-year-old eh? (1)

mrjb (547783) | more than 3 years ago | (#34073120)

Clap....
clap...
clap.

Congratulations, America. Well done.
What's next, indeed.

Re:Suing a 6-year-old eh? (1)

mmcxii (1707574) | more than 3 years ago | (#34073160)

Yes, because blaming an entire nation for the actions of a small group is so advanced. I guess with an attitude like that things like racism and sexism are valid too?

Interesting but (1)

denshao2 (1515775) | more than 3 years ago | (#34073122)

Why is this on Slashdot?

is this an advert for "rally to restore sanity?" (0, Offtopic)

dAzED1 (33635) | more than 3 years ago | (#34073132)

surely this is just a plug for the john stewart rally thing today...right?

Sueing child or parents? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34073146)

Aren't they really sueing the parents? From TFA: "The decision also will allow for the lawsuit to proceed against the Kohn family for the incident". ISTM it sort of makes sense here that the parents/legal guardians have responsibility for their children's actions. Sounds like they should have taken liability insurance.

@ the age of 4 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34073176)

Well, can a 4 year old make a rational decision based on its surroundings, like turning in time to not hit the 87 year old lady who will fall over and suffer hip damage, resulting in surgery and later death, makes me wonder why there not suing the hospital as well death cause by surgery rather then death from falling over due to a CHILD not being able to monitor a situation like an adult. Picking on the one who cant make a proper decision just seams callous and petty. 'Lawyers' I guess.

Happy Pony (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 3 years ago | (#34073188)

"Grandma, you shouldda let me watch Happy Pony! [youtube.com] "

Some Important Clarifications (5, Informative)

Grond (15515) | more than 3 years ago | (#34073200)

First, this was a trial court ruling by a judge, not a justice. This did not create or modify precedent for other courts. In New York, unlike the rest of the US, the low-level trial courts are called Supreme Courts [wikipedia.org] . What the rest of us would think of as "The Supreme Court" is called the Court of Appeals [wikipedia.org] . Yes, it's very confusing.

Second, this was a ruling on a motion to dismiss, not a ruling on the merits. This only says the child may be sued, not that the child is liable, nor even that the child (as opposed to the parents) would be made to pay anything. The parents are being sued as well; this is not some spiteful attack on the child in particular.

Third, this is not surprising in the least from a legal perspective and relies upon well-settled legal principles. In general the law in the US does not recognize an absolute age limit to liability. For negligence, children are judged according to the standard of a reasonable child of that age (unless they are undertaking an adult activity such as driving a car). For a four year old, that's not saying much.

Fourth, there's nothing uniquely American about this. Several European countries have similar or even harsher rules [udg.edu] . In France, for example, children are judged according to the same negligence standard as adults, which is much stricter than the US rule.

competency (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34073204)

A 4-year old, even if they "did it on purpose" is incapable of understanding the consequences of their action at that age. I have 5 children and have worked with many more. Children that age are simply incapable of grasping the concepts involved. The fragility of the elderly, the finality of death, the concept of broken bones.

Parents are responsible for their children. If you want to sue someone, the parents would be the appropriate people to sue. It is cruel, irresponsible, and irrational to sue a child who was 4 years-old when the "crime" was committed. The prosecutor and the judge should both be removed from office by the citizens of that area. They have clearly demonstrated their lack of competence.

The judge says there's no evidence a child of that age couldn't appreciate "the danger of riding a bicycle into an elderly woman." The judge is an idiot and not fit to sit the bench.

"unfortunate" (1)

sqldr (838964) | more than 3 years ago | (#34073210)

Aaah, America.. the land of the lawyer. The word "unfortunate" has lost its meaning. It's now followed by the words "what are you going to do about it?".
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