Judge Rules 4-Year-Old Can Be Sued In Elderly Woman's Death

Justice SystemWPIXCrime, Law and JusticeHealthKing's County

A four-year-old girl -- accused of mowing down an 87-year-old woman with her bike on a Manhattan sidewalk -- is being sued for negligence.

The incident occurred in April 2009, when Claire Menagh was struck by two four-year-old's -- identified as Juliet Breitman and Jacob Kohn -- who were apparently racing their bikes on an East Side sidewalk.

According to a complaint, the children's mother's were with them during the time of the incident and the woman was "seriously and severely injured." In fact, reports state the woman suffered a hip fracture and underwent surgery. Officials say Menagh died three weeks later.

The decision, which was made official by King's County Supreme Court Justice Paul Wooten on Thursday, is causing a major divide in the neighborhood.

Menagh's estate is suing both children and their mothers. However,

Breitman's attorney, James Tyrie, argued that four is too young to be liable, citing the fact that courts have held in the past that children under the age of four are "incapable of negligence."

However, Wooten dismissed arguments by Breitman's lawyer that the case should be dismissed because of her young age. He instead ruled that she is old enough to be sued and the case can proceed.

In addition, Wooten disagreed with Breitman's statement that the young girl should not be sued because her mother was supervising 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.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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