Thursday, November 05, 2009

The end of babysitting and sleepovers

I read the "new" opinions in Kellerman v. McDonough. I thought both the majority and Justice Kinser's opinions were off the mark.

The majority opinion converts the mom hosting a sleepover into some kind of service provider with a duty of reasonable care, to protect the kids from criminals. That's an awfully casual basis for imposing what might be a tremendous liability for the normally unforeseeable acts of others. I guess the Chief Justice wants moms and babysitters to keep a stack of written waivers handy. At least the babysitters get paid - and now they need to charge enough to buy some good insurance.

Justice Kinser's parsing of the pleadings also seemed unreasonable. The Rules say: "An allegation of negligence or contributory negligence is sufficient without specifying the particulars of the negligence." The plaintiff had no obligation to specify any particular theory of negligence, under the rules as written. This part of Justice Kinser's opinion strikes me as another in a series of appellate decisions that have been too persnickety in their interpretation of whether issues were sufficiently raised in the trial court.