The Justice of Parental Accountability: Hypothetical Disinterested Citizens and Real Victims' Voices in the Debate Over Expanded Parental Liability
Rhonda V. Magee
University of San Francisco
Temple Law Review, Vol. 75, No. 3, 2002
This article revisits the law of parental liability following recent horrific acts of violence by minors across the country. It begins with a brief discussion of prevailing parental liability law, then turns to a consideration of the concept of justice in tort law and its application in various real and hypothetical cases. The author next summarizes the insights of John Rawls and Mari Matsuda, discussing the application of their analytical metaphors to the issues of parental liability. The author concludes that parents should be subject to greater liability for the torts of their children, either through an expanded duty of supervision actionable in negligence or through adopting strict parental liability for harmful acts by minors. The author posits a new "Developmental Liability" - a theory of shared responsibility for the harm done by minors and discusses the implications of the proposed expansion of liability for parents, children and society as a whole.
The article concludes that the common law should adopt a more expansive approach to claims seeking to hold parents and other potentially responsible parties liable for the torts of minor children in order to promote both a distributive and corrective justice.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 72
Keywords: tort law, parental liability, parental accountability, school violence, John Rawls, Mari Matsuda
JEL Classification: K13
Date posted: February 24, 2008