This post is not really “Academic Support related”, but I just saw THIS article from the NYT and I need to talk about it. 

Suing a four year old?  For riding a tricycle negligently?  Am I the only one who thinks this is slightly crazy?

I understand that the judge is not saying that the children were negligent, but only that they have the capacity to have been negligent, and the case can go to trial.  But really?  Does a four year old have the capacity to be negligent?  Apparently, if this little girl was a few months younger, she would have been protected by precedent – children under  four are clearly not capable of negligence.  But, being three months short of  her fifth birthday makes her potentially liable – because under the law there is no “bright-line-rule” for children over four. 

So, they go to trial.  And let’s say that the unthinkable happens (in my opinion, but maybe others think that’s the right outcome?), and she is found to have been negligent.  Which means that it was determined that a “reasonably prudent” four and a half year old would have avoided hitting an elderly lady while riding her tricycle.  That’s some scary precedent, don’t you think?  As if our society is not litigious enough to begin with, you will now be able to sue any little kid who accidentally hurts you while throwing a temper tantrum, playing ball, riding a bike and/or just generally acting like…well, a kid. 

What do you all think of this?  Am I wrong to thing this is taking things to far?  Am I too far removed from my 1L torts class to understand that this is a fair and legitimate outcome under the law?  Or do you agree that this is too much?