Oddly Enough

New York Judge rules 6-year-old can be sued

NEW YORK (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.

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

“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.

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 behaviour 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.”

Reporting by Bernd Debusmann Jr.; editing by Jim Marshall