Eleven-year old with multiple fractures can't sue the drunk
In Cottrill v. Craig Kenneth Senter, two judges of the Court of Appeals recently held that an injured eighth grader could not sue the drunk who crossed the center line and hurt him. The two judges ruled that even though there wer intimations of a head injury, and proven evidence of a fractured wrist, comminuted fracture of bones in the foot, and fractured ribs, the minor plaintiff had not alleged a "serious impairment of bodily function."
The dissenting judge pointed out that the drunk (with a .30 blood alcohol) caused the boy to miss two months of eighth grade and two full seasons of football, along with enduring several months of inactivity and an episode of difficulty breathing resulting from the multiple rib fractures. He was still experiencing residual chest pain and had gone a full month without weight-bearing, along with needing attendant care for several weeks.
The two judges who dismissed the case determined that young Cottrill's injuries "did not change the trajectory of his life," applying the Engler Majority's Kreiner standard of "serious impairment." The majority opinion pointed out, a propos of the latter conclusion, that the boy testified "he did not expect [his rib pain] to continue much longer." We are glad to hear that an eleven-year old's anticipated prognosis for his own injuries is now admissible on the subject of "serious impairment." Clearly the standard of intellectual analysis and discourse in our judiciary is becoming elevated.