Court holds in-laws not responsible for child's drowning
Ashley DeMeyer, Skylar Wheeler's mother, sued Lori and Gary Sheets, the child's father's parents, after Skylar drowned while visiting the grandparents. The mother argued that the grandparents owed a duty to a toddler visitor to prevent the child from gaining access to a pond on their property. Her attorneys likely raised this theory after a ruling that neither the father, nor his parents serving in loco parentis, could legally be held liable for negligent supervision of the child (because of "parental immunity").
In any event, the Court noted that since the child was only a licensee ("tolerated on the premises") and not a commercial invitee (on the premises for the owner's mutual benefit), the grandparents owed no duty to limit the child's access to the pond. It noted that Michigan courts have previously recognized a higher duty of care by landowners to child invitees and in some cases to child licensees, but deemed these cases inapplicable under the circumstances that led to Skylar's death.