First: Let’s talk about sexual assault. If you allow anyone to touch a child at your house, you will pay! Not only will the law come down hard on you but juries will too! Last month, a Levy County, Florida jury awarded a boy who was molested at his grandmother’s home by his uncle an award of $26,400,000 against the grandmother! The case was brought as a Negligent Supervision case where that negligent act allowed the intentional tort of sexual assault and sexual battery to occur. Because it was a negligent supervision claim the homeowner (read grandma) must pay the award.
The reason the jury found the grandmother guilty for allowing this heinous crime to go on was because she started babysitting the boy when he was 5 years old in 1999 and her son, the uncle, came over at least 20 times between then and 2003, and sexually assaulted his nephew, the boy in the case. When the boy finally told on the uncle and the legal case began, the uncle committed suicide. Thus he isn’t able to pay anything any longer. The boy’s father sued his mother-in-law saying that she failed to closely watch the boy and should known this was happening. The boy’s older sister even told the grandmother what was happening because she observed the molestation, but the grandmother branded her a liar and refused to investigate.
The boy now has Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and will need psychological counseling for the remainder of his life. In truth, no one ever really gets over such a violation. According to the boy’s doctors, he is at risk of drug and substance abuse, suicide and other psychiatric maladies throughout his life. He will need to be counseled into having normal relationships with his friends, family and, of course, his wife.
The jury found the grandmother 85% responsible and the father only 15% responsible, so the total award was reduced to only $22,440,000. The way the jury came to such a high number was that they awarded $400,000 for future medical care and $6,000,000 for past pain and suffering, but the bulk of the money, $20 million, was for future pain and suffering damages.
It is important people learn about how such a crime like this can affect their lives.
But, how does this type of case apply to me? It applies when virtually any crime happens in your home. What kind of crime do people let happen in their homes? Underage drinking! Here is a common scenario: A son or daughter returns from college with some friends. They are 20 years old and have been responsibly drinking at college for 2 or 3 years. They sit around at night hanging out and drinking a few beers. Then at the end of the evening they drive home. Not drunk. Just a few beers, mind you. Unfortunately they get into a car accident and hurt someone on the way home. They don’t need to be drunk! If the officer smells alcohol on their breath and asks where they were drinking, YOU are responsible for that accident. You can be arrested for permitting under-age drinking to occur at your house and you can be responsible for all the damages that the accident caused! Sound unfair? Maybe it is, but that is too bad – It’s the law.
Do not allow it to happen. Say no to your kid’s request to be a “cool” parent and allow a “few” beers, or you could buy yourself a huge lawsuit.