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Court holds mother cannot sue 3 year-old daughter's father for wrongful drowning death

Nicole Mickel sued her ex-husband, Daniel Wilson, after their youngest daughter died while in Wilson's custody.  Wilson had taken the couple's three daughters to a relative's graduation party on an inland lake.  The girls went swimming and Wilson did not supervise them.  While he was in the home, briefly, the 3 and 1/2 year old, Jordyn, drowned.  Mickel sued him for wrongful death, claiming negligent supervision.

The Court held that Mickel's case was properly dismissed, although Judge Gleicher dissented.  The two majority judges concluded that Wilson enjoyed immunity from claims of negligent supervision because under Michigan law a parent cannot be sued for the negligent exercise of reasonable parental authority and supervision. 

Judge Gleicher adamantly disagreed with this interpretation and application of the existing law, noting that the established public policy of the state is to hold parents accountable for negligence and to narrowly apply intra-family immunity.  She noted that exceptions to accountability for negligence are narrowly interpreted and apply only to reasonable discretion in the provision or satisfaction of food, shelter and other legal obligations of a parent.

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