Saturday, May 16, 2009

A Boy Maimed: Sue?

Here's a scenario:

  1. Your 3-year-old is in the home of family friends, accompanied by his mother.
  2. While mom and the other mom visit in the kitchen, your son plays with the host family's kids nearby.
  3. The host family has only recently moved into the house, and is still unpacking.
  4. Your son climbs an empty bookcase, which falls on him.
  5. He suffers severe injuries, which require multiple surgeries.
What would you do? Gee, I don't know... but suing the friends would not be one of my action items.

But that's just what the child's dad, David Foss, did in this case, despite the fact that the child's own mother was right there and fully responsible for his behavior, if anyone could be held responsible in a situation that was clearly an accident.

I can't tell from the media coverage, such as this story in the Pioneer Press, whether the Fosses' marriage is intact or if they are divorced or separated. Perhaps that could explain David Foss's lack of civility and sheer common sense in suing the other family.

The courts made short shrift of his case, though -- first, it was dismissed by summary judgment, and then, upon appeal to the Minnesota state Supreme Court, the dismissal was upheld. (Read the decision here.)

A key point in the decision was this:
Imposing duties on homeowners to protect child visitors of all ages and personalities from these hazards would be tantamount to mandating childproofing requirements for private residences.
And requiring that childproofing whether the child's parent is present or not, another key factor in the decision.

Chalk one up for a good decision by the courts. Now if only they would finish up with the U.S. Senate case.

(Off topic, but here's a link to Johnny Cash singing A Boy Named Sue. I grew up listening to a 45 of the song, and can still recite the lyrics.)

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