Court panel evaluates adults' duty to 9 year-old child injured during informal race
Nine year-old Kyle Wood suffered a serious head injury when he slipped and fell on his grandfather's garage floor. At the time, he was "racing" with his grandfather's step-son, an adult named Brandon DeWyse. When it became apparent that Kyle had suffered serious injury, his mother made a claim against the two adults' homeowner's insurance policies.
The trial judge summarily ruled that Kyle could not sue his grandfather, but held that there was a question of fact with regard to whether Brandon DeWyse violated a duty of due care by promoting a "race" with the child under slippery conditions. On appeal, the Court of Appeals panel ruled that the lower court got it right: it affirmed the lower court's rulings.
The Court held that it would be up to a jury to decide whether DeWyse acted "reasonably" and with "due care," but that under previous rulings of the Republican Supreme Court majority, grandpa owed no duty to the boy. Although the garage floor was a slippery condition that posed a hazard, the Court concluded that the child was a "licensee" merely tolerated on the property, and therefore Grandpa "owed him no duty" to make the premises safe. It cited the Grandfather's admonitions to his younger family members on prior visits that they "slow down," as more than adequate to satisfy any duty to warn of the slippery floor. So, apparently, if you just tell everyone who visits you to "be careful," you cannot be liable for maintaining a snake pit in your visitor's bedroom. If you have frequent visitors, you don't even need to repeat the warning.