Our firm has had the opportunity to stand for minors who were victims of unlawful physical touching and emotional distress at the hands of another minor. We filed a civil lawsuit on behalf of our minor clients and their parents against the Defendant minor and his parents for a failure to properly watch over their teenage son. Defendants were sued in Riverside Superior Court, Southwest, Case Number MCC1800357.
The lawsuit alleged that, pursuant to Civil Code section 1714.1 et. al., both parents were responsible for the harm committed by their teenage son, as his actions involved willful misconduct resulting in injury to another person, and as such the conduct of their son was imputed to the parents.
Civil Code section 1714.1 allows for parents of a minor to be liable for up to $25,000 for their child’s willful misconduct. To be liable, the child’s conduct must result in injury or death to another person or harm to another person’s property. This statute can be supplemented with other theories of liability in hopes of recovering the full harm incurred.
For example, in this case, the parents of the minor were sued for Negligent Supervision of the child, coupled with the liability provided under California Civil Code Section 1714.1., while the Minor Defendant was personally sued for Assault, Battery, Negligence, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress, and violation of California Civil Code Section 52.1.
The Plaintiff’s First Amended Complaint alleged in part that Defendants so negligently, carelessly, recklessly, and unlawfully supervised their minor child to where the lack of proper supervision directly and proximately caused physical and/or psychological injury to Plaintiffs.
Discovery revealed that, on October 17, 2017, Defendant’s 15-year-old son had driven to Staples in Temecula. The minor was sleeping, so Defendant, decided to leave his son in the car alone in the car. Moments later, Plaintiffs (Mom and her two minor children) travelled to Staples to purchase some school items. Plaintiffs started to get out of their vehicle, and they were seen by the teenager who had been left in the car by himself.
The Plaintiffs’ First Amended Complaint alleged that the Plaintiffs were walking towards the front door of the store when the teenage son (15-years old and approximately 6’0”, 225lbs) approached Plaintiffs from behind and violently grabbed the 6-year old boy without the consent or knowledge of either the 6-year old or his mother. At this time, the teenager violently snatched the 6-year old boy from his mother’s hold. The teenager proceeded to grab and drag the 6-year old against his will towards a nearby vehicle. During this time, the 6-year old’s mother continued to scream at the teenager to release her son, while at the same time attempting to physically pry her son away from the teenager’s hold.
During this time, the 9-year old sister of the 6-year-old boy, who had witnessed this kidnapping of her brother, was in fear that she was also going to be kidnapped.
Meanwhile, the mother continued to engage in a tug-of-war with the teenager, as they both pulled on the 6-year old boy in opposite directions. Eventually, the teenager opened the back door to his vehicle and proceeded to enter the vehicle while still holding the 6-year old boy.
Realizing that the teenager would soon be completely inside the vehicle with her son in his arms, and that she would be unable to rescue her son, the mother began to initiate distraction blows against Defendant, MINOR in hopes that he would release her son. Meanwhile, the 6-year old boy was in complete fear for his life, shocked and scared that he was being kidnapped and taken away from his mother.
Ultimately, Defendant came out of a nearby store and assisted the mother in forcing the teenager to release the 6-year old boy.
During the lawsuit, both the father and the mother had their depositions taken.
Discovery revealed that another incident prior to the one at issue in the pending lawsuit had occurred with their son at Walmart in Temecula about a year before. One of the Defendants was in the tire store and he had again left his minor son along with his minor daughter in the car. While another child was walking by, the teenage son saw a child and his parent traveling by in a shopping cart, and the teenager decided to leave his car and approach the minor. The child’s father shielded his young son from the teenager to prevent the teenager from having any ability to touch his child, and the police were ultimately called.
In our case, the damages consisted primarily of emotional distress-related damages that were reduced significantly with appropriate care. Luckily, they did not suffer any permanent physical injuries, although the risk of such injuries was very real. Although Defendants did not formally acknowledge the full extent of the claimed damages, they ultimately offered to pay the minors involved a total of $30,000.00 and their mother $15,000.00, for a total of $45,000.00.