On Memorial Day, our client’s young boy who was snorkeling at the time was run over by a family boat operated by a 6-grader while at full speed and on a full plane. The propeller fatally injured him. Despite having a diver’s down flag prominently displayed, the reckless teenager who never should have been trusted with operating the boat alone fled the scene, went home, covered up evidence of his crime and lied to the police. Our investigation found five witnesses who saw him flee at full speed.
A lawsuit was filed against multiple defendants including the parents under counts of negligent entrustment and negligent supervision. Courts look at the following elements of negligent entrustment when the allegation is made against the parents of a young child: whether the parent entrusts an instrumentality to a child who because of his lack of (1) age, (2) judgment or (3) experience, may become a source of danger to others. In this case, our firm was able to satisfy every element by establishing that the recklessness behavior of the 13 year-old child/boat operator
Whether the parents knew or should have known with due care that injury to another was possible because of their child’s past reckless operation of the boat would constitute negligent supervision. We established through witness testimony, including from one neighbor who had previously seen the teen operating his boat in a reckless manner while the neighbor’s family was snorkeling at the docks off his house.