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Broadbent by Broadbent v. Broadbent

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Broadbent (plaintiff) sued Broadbent (defednat) stemming from the death of their son.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    When the parent of a child is being sued based on injuries arising out of a parent’s negligent supervision of the child, that standard the court will use is what would a reasonable parent do in a similar situation.

    Facts.

    While the defednat was watching her two-year-old son she went to answer a phone call, while the child was in the swimming pool. When she returned, the child was at the bottom of the pool. While the child could be revived, he suffered brain damage from remaining under water too long. The father of the child, plaintiff, brought suit on his son’s behalf. The trial court dismissed the case, citing parental immunity.  

    Issue.

    Whether when the parent of a child is being sued based on injuries arising out of a parent’s negligent supervision of the child, that standard the court will use is what would a reasonable parent do in a similar situation?

    Held.

    Yes. When the parent of a child is being sued based on injuries arising out of a parent’s negligent supervision of the child, that standard the court will use is what would a reasonable parent do in a similar situation.

    Concurrence.

    None

    Discussion.

    Traditionally, courts have recognized and given parents wide discretion in raising their children based on the need for discipline. Based on this, courts developed the doctrine of parental immunity to shield parents from liability for injuries arising from their negligent supervision. Under this doctrine, children were forbidden from suing their parents, even for malicious acts such as rape. However, courts began to carve out several exceptions to the rule. The traditional policy behind parental immunity are the preservation of domestic tranquility; avoiding fraud and collusion; preventing parents from getting damages awarded to a child; and discretion in allowing parents to discipline and control their children. However, most of courts find these grounds lacking to justify the parental immunity doctrine. Fraud and collusion can happen in any legal proceeding. Also, parents cannot be given unlimited discretion to control and discipline their children, in cases of willful or wanton misconduct. Courts should not protect parents in these situations. Thus, it would benefit this court to adopt the reasonable parent test.


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