Law School Case Brief
Brown v. Kerr - No. 2009-CA-000943-MR, 2010 Ky. App. Unpub. LEXIS 323 (Ct. App. Apr. 9, 2010)
A negligence case such as this "requires proof that (1) the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care, (2) the defendant breached the standard by which his or her duty is measured, and (3) consequent injury."
This case involves a claim for recovery by Margaret H. Brown for her son's tragic death. Mrs. Brown appeals on her own behalf and as the administrator and personal representative of the estate of her son, Roy Marshal Jeffries. She sought recovery in Hardin Circuit Court for negligence and for the mishandling of Roy's body from Phillip and Judy Kerr, the parents of Clayton Tae Kerr, the young man who killed Roy. Mrs. Brown also asserted that the Kerrs owed Roy a duty of care because the harm he suffered was foreseeable based on Clayton's past with drugs and violence. She further contended that the Kerrs owed Roy a duty of care as a licensee on their property. The court entered summary judgment for the Kerrs
Did the court err when it granted summary judgment and concluded that the Kerrs had no duty of care because the Clayton’s actions were not foreseeable?
While Clayton had problems in the past, both of his parents testified they were not aware of any problems he was having anywhere near the time of the shooting. The gun cabinet here was very secure. It simply was not foreseeable that Clayton would use parts from a pen and a bar of soap to open it. Moore, 418 S.W.2d 245, also does not support Mrs. Brown's case, She argues, that pursuant to Moore, parents have a duty of reasonable care to prevent their children from causing harm to another when they are on notice of prior acts that have the potential to injury another. Moore involved a minor child; not an adult child. There is no jurisprudence in Kentucky, that absent a special relationship, parents are responsible for their adult children's actions. To the contrary, the case of Whitesides v. Wheeler, 158 Ky. 121, 164 S.W.335 (1914) is highly illustrative of this point. As in Whitesides, the evidence in this matter is that the Kerrs did not know that Clayton had the weapon used in the shooting. And while the Court in Whitesides uses the term "custody," there is no evidence from which this Court would assume that Clayton was in the "custody" of his parents. Accordingly, there is no legal foundation to hold the Kerrs liable for the actions of their adult son.
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