Ardinger v. Hummell

In Ardinger v. Hummell, 982 P.2d 727 (Alaska 1999) fourteen-year-old Normandy Hummell took her mother's car without permission and allowed fifteen-year- old Joshua Van Bavel to drive the car. When Coast Guard Security Officers attempted to stop the car, Joshua sped away, lost control of the car, and collided with a utility pole, causing his death. Joshua's mother, Sherie Ardinger, both for herself and as a personal representative of her son's estate, sued Normandy and her mother on the theory that they had negligently allowed Joshua to operate the car, resulting in his death. The trial court rejected Ardinger's request to instruct the jury that because fourteen-year-old Normandy was engaged in an adult activity, Normandy should be held to an adult standard of care. The trial court charged the jury that Normandy was to be held to a standard of care of a person of her own age, intelligence, knowledge, and experience under similar circumstances. The jury entered a defense verdict in favor of Normandy and Pamela Hummell. On appeal, the supreme court relied on the Restatement (Second) of Torts in setting out the general rule "that children should be held to the standard of care of a reasonable person of the same 'age, intelligence and experience under like circumstances.'" The supreme court explained that public policy dictated that it would not be fair to hold a child legally responsible for a standard that most children would not be capable of meeting.