Robinson v. Lindsay – Case Brief
Robinson v. Lindsay, 92 Wash.2d 410, 598 P.2d 392 (1979).
Facts: Robinson (P), age 11, was riding in an inner tube attached by a rope to a snowmobile driven by Anderson (D1), age 13. The snowmobile was owned by Lindsay (D2). Robinson’s thumb became caught in the rope and was severed. Reattachment surgery was only partially successful and Robinson sued Anderson and Lindsay for personal injuries.
At trial, the jury was instructed that the standard of care for negligence was that it is the duty of a child to exercise the same care that a reasonably careful child of the same age, intelligence, maturity, training, and experience would exercise under the same or similar circumstances. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Anderson. The trial court ordered a new trial based on an error in the jury instructions and Anderson appealed.
Issue: What is the standard of care for a child engaged in an adult or inherently dangerous activity?
Holding and Rule: A minor engaged in an adult or inherently dangerous activity is held to an adult standard of care.
The court noted that children traditionally have been encouraged to pursue childhood activities without the same burdens and responsibilities as adults. Generally the care or caution required depends upon the capacity of the child, and the general rule is that a child is held only to the exercise of such degree of care and discretion as is reasonably to be expected from children of his age. The court noted however that holding minors to an adult standard of care when operating motorized vehicles had been gaining approval from an increasing number of courts and commentators. The court held that D1 was engaged in an inherently dangerous activity and D1 must be held to the standard of care normally exercised by a reasonable adult.
Disposition: Order for new trial affirmed.