Arizona Supreme Court - 184 Ariz. 74
The case involves a negligence claim by Christopher Broadbent against his mother for leaving him alone by the pool, resulting in severe brain damage. The trial court granted the mother's motion for summary judgment based on the doctrine of parental immunity, which was upheld by the court of appeals. However, Judge Kleinschmidt dissented, arguing that the mother had a duty to supervise the pool and that parental immunity did not apply. The supreme court discussed the history and purpose of the parental immunity doctrine and agreed that any changes to established case law should be determined by them, not the court of appeals. Northbrook Indemnity Company was permitted to appear and defend the case as they provided personal umbrella liability insurance coverage for the mother.
The article discusses the importance of distinguishing between parental decisions and caretaker's breach of duty in determining liability. It introduces the reasonable and prudent parent test, which acknowledges a parent's discretion in decision-making. If the breach of duty falls outside of a parent's authority, the test should be more adaptable. For instance, enrolling a child in swimming lessons is a matter of parental authority, subject to the reasonable and prudent parent test. Liability is imposed only if the decision made by the parent was unreasonable. However, leaving a two-year-old child unsupervised at the side of a swimming pool is not a parental decision, but a caretaker's breach of duty. Therefore, the reasonable and prudent parent test offers less flexibility in such cases.
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