RRD Obtains Summary Judgment on Negligent Supervision of Elderly Parent Claim

March 25, 2015

RRD attorneys Jim Noonan and John Kanca recently obtained summary judgment on behalf of clients in a fire loss and property damage claim.  The court ruled that in the absence of a special legal or custodial relationship, children are not liable for the negligence of their elderly parents.  This case arose from a cooking fire that caused damage to personal property owned by the plaintiffs.  The defendants’ mother, an elderly woman, owned a life estate in a multiple family dwelling that she deeded via quitclaim to her four daughters.  She was alone cooking in her unit when she fell and was unable to get up to turn off the stove.  The building caught fire and destroyed the second and third floors of the house where the plaintiffs were living.  The defendants’ mother later died of natural causes and the plaintiffs brought a direct action against her estate and her daughters for their alleged property damage.  We represented two of the family members.  The crux of the plaintiffs claims were negligent supervision of their mother in allowing her to reside in the home at such an advanced age.   

The court found that no special/custodial relationship existed between the family and their mother that would impose a legal duty upon the daughters to control or supervise their independently living mother.  In addition the court found the alleged negligence of the mother was not reasonably foreseeable and that there was no evidence that the daughters was in possession and control of the apartment at the time of the fire.   The court held that the daughters owed no duty to protect the plaintiffs against the conduct of their mother and entered summary judgment in favor of our clients.