Spears v. Spears

In Spears v. Spears, 339 Ark. 162, 3 S.W.3d 691 (1999), the court traced the history of the doctrine in Arkansas, beginning with Rambo v. Rambo, 195 Ark. 832, 114 S.W.2d 468 (1938), and acknowledged that the doctrine has been abandoned by some jurisdictions: We are aware that while some jurisdictions like Arkansas have retained the parental immunity doctrine, other jurisdictions have either abandoned the doctrine totally or recognized a variety of exceptions to it. See, generally, Romualdo P. Eclavea, Annotation, Liability of Parent for Injury to Unemancipated Child Caused by Parent's Negligence -- Modern Cases, 6 A.L.R. 4th 1066 (1981). Nevertheless, Wayne Spears does not present this court with a convincing or cogent argument for overruling its precedent of over sixty years. He states, in conclusory fashion, that thirty states have allowed suits against parents involving automobile accidents but cites no caselaw to support the conclusion and otherwise provides us with a paucity of cases to warrant changing our common law. We do not overrule our common law cavalierly or without giving considerable thought to the change. See Zinger v. Terrell, 336 Ark. 423, 985 S.W.2d 737 (1999). This court has in the past announced its willingness to revisit and reexamine our holdings on a given issue. See, e.g., Dawson v. Gerritsen, 290 Ark. 499, 720 S.W.2d 714 (1986). By this opinion, we announce our intention to reexamine the parental immunity doctrine at the next appropriate opportunity. (Spears, 339 Ark. at 165-166, 3 S.W.3d at 693-94.)