Appelhans v. McFall

325 Ill. App. 3d 232, 259 Ill. Dec. 124, 757 N.E.2d 987 (2001)

 

RULE:

In Illinois, the parent-child relationship does not automatically render parents liable for the torts of their minor children. Parents may be liable, however, if they do not adequately control or supervise their child. To prove a claim of negligent supervision, a plaintiff must show that (1) the parents were aware of specific instances of prior conduct sufficient to put them on notice that the act complained of was likely to occur, and (2) the parents had the opportunity to control the child. 

FACTS:


Plaintiff injured person, age 66, was walking along the edge of a rural road when the child, who was 5-years-old, rode his bicycle and struck the injured person. The injured person fell and broke her hip. Plaintiff injured person sued defendants, child and his parents, seeking damages for personal injuries. The complaint alleged that the child was negligent and that the parents negligently supervised the child.  The Circuit Court dismissed the complaint. The injured person appealed. The judgment was affirmed.

ISSUE:

Can defendant parents be held liable for negligence for failing to supervise their child on the proper use of his bicycle? 

ANSWER:

No.

CONCLUSION:

The appellate court held that a child was incapable of negligence if he was less than seven-years-old. The open and obvious danger doctrine was inapplicable. The parent-child relationship did not automatically render parents liable for the torts of their minor children. Parents could be liable, however, if they did not adequately control or supervise their child. To prove a claim of negligent supervision, the injured person was required to show that (1) the parents were aware of specific instances of prior conduct sufficient to put them on notice that the act complained of was likely to occur, and (2) the parents had the opportunity to control the child. The complaint failed to allege the two elements of negligent parental supervision. The parents were not required to prevent the child from ever entering into a situation where he might commit a negligent act.

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