Tort of Negligent Supervision of Minors

The Kentucky Supreme Court has just released an opinion that discusses the elements of the tort of negligent supervision of a minor.

This is the law in Kentucky: “A parent is under a duty to exercise reasonable care so to control his minor child as to prevent it from intentionally harming others or from so conducting itself as to create an unreasonable risk of bodily harm to them, if the parent (a) knows or has reason to know that he has the ability to control his child, and (b) knows or should know of the necessity and opportunity for exercising such control.”

The Court held that “It is not negligent supervision per se for parents to fail to monitor their teenager twenty-four hours a day when the parents are not aware of, and have no reason to be aware of, any particular risk necessitating such intensive monitoring. Parents owe no duty to third parties to supervise or control their minor child to prevent the child from harming others unless the parents know, or should know, of the need and opportunity to exercise such control and the parents have the ability to exercise such control. The mere fact that the parents do not have the ability to exercise control is not, in and of itself, proof that the parents violated a duty to control their child to prevent him from harming others. The Fritz appellants have not presented any evidence to establish either that the Hugenbergs knew, or should have known, of a need to prevent Mikael from drinking and driving and of an opportunity to prevent him from doing so or that the Hugenbergs had the actual, physical ability to have prevented Mikael from drinking and driving on the evening of September 18, 1999. Therefore, summary judgment was properly granted on the negligent supervision claim.”

The case is Hugenberg v. West American Insurance Company, NO. 2004-CA-001472-MR (April 7, 2006). Read the opinion here.

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