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Judge's ruling spooks parents with young kids

Photo by Vicki Harris

Photo by Vicki Harris

The 5-year-old boy and I often watch Animal Planet together. He, like myself, is a big animal lover. One of his favorite shows on Animal Planet is Animal Planet's "Haunted." This show purports to tell a ghost story somehow connected to animal behavior. In reality, in most cases, it is just an excuse for Animal Planet to show a ghost story which barely touches upon the behavior of a family dog or other animal.

One of the more recent "Haunted" shows involves the story of a little boy, about the same age as mine, who tells his mother that he keeps seeing the vision of a man on the stairway in the family home. The mother asks what does the man look like that he sees. The little boy says the man floats in the air and you can see through him. He then says the man is bloody all over. They call this episode "The Bloody Man." The remainder of the story tells how the family fights to save their home, their child and to rid themselves of the bloody man.

My little boy loves this story, but I can safely say that if this vision occurred in my home, there would be another television story named "The Gamble Family Will Not Move Out of the Methodist Church." Because, if my child reports seeing a bloody floating man roaming the home, I will immediately abandon the home, taking with me the rest of the family, and barricade myself inside the nearest church.

I'll take up residence in the Methodist church and place a sleeping bag directly below the stained glass painting of Jesus holding his hands to welcome the children. I do not intend to become embroiled in a battle with bloody, ghostly spectres and I have no intention of finding out whether or not exorcisms really work.

With this said, a recent ruling in the Manhattan State Supreme Court in New York is even more scary than a 5-year-old seeing a ghostly bloody man.

In Manhattan, a 4-year-old girl riding a bicycle struck an 87-year-old woman walking on the sidewalk, injuring her, including fracturing her hip. The woman required surgery and died three months later. As a result, her estate sued the 4-year-old child.

The judge ruled that a 4-year-old child was old enough to be sued, and the 4-year-old child and family could be held liable for the injuries because there was no evidence the child "lacked intelligence or maturity" and "nothing indicates that another child of similar age and capacity under the circumstances could not have reasonably appreciated the danger of riding a bicycle into an elderly woman."

Now, that ruling is truly frightening.

Obviously, the judge has never met my 5-year-old son. Placing intelligence, or maturity, in the same sentence with the 5-year-old boy is virtually incomprehensible. I seriously doubt he would give much thought at all about running over an 87-year-old woman with a bicycle. He might just as well walk up and whack her with a stick, attack her with a make-believe army gun or throw a handful of fake spiders on her. For that matter, he might throw a live spider on her.

So, now I've got to worry about whether or not I 'll be sued based on his behavior. I'm one Crown and Coke away from being sued concerning my own behavior on most occasions. I have no way to predict what mayhem he might concoct next.

Recently, he power barfed in the buffet line at the Golden Corral. I guess I could be subject to a class action lawsuit from all patrons whose meals were spoiled. I guess my only hope is to contact my insurance agent and see about buying a policy. How much do you think it will cost to insure against the actions of the 5-year-old terror?

Contact columnist T. Gamble at t@colliergamble.com.