Herron v. Hollis – Case Brief Summary (Georgia)

In Herron v. Hollis (2001) 248 Ga. App. 194 546 S.E.2d 17, three-year-old Cassidy and her mother were living in the defendant's home, which had a backyard pool.

The defendant generally participated in the parenting and supervising of the child. While the defendant was taking a nap, the mother allowed her child to play in the backyard in the vicinity of the uncovered pool while the mother went into the house.

When the mother looked out of the window to check on the child, she saw the child's toy floating in the pool and ran outside to find the child in the pool. The mother pulled the child out of the pool, but the child died the next day.

The Court of Appeals of Georgia affirmed summary judgment in favor of the homeowner on the negligent supervision claim, concluding that because the child was being supervised by her mother at the time of the incident, and the mother knew that the homeowner was taking a nap, "we must agree with the trial court that the defendant is not liable under a negligent supervision theory. ' "It would normally be the duty of a parent or other adult having primary supervisory control over the child to see to it that a child would not be going into a place of obvious danger." ' At the time of the incident, Cassidy's mother had primary and exclusive supervisory control over Cassidy." (Id. at pp. 18-19.)

The court in Herron also concluded that summary judgment was properly granted on the premises liability claim because the homeowner used reasonable care in leaving the child under the supervision of her mother and there was no evidence that the child's drowning was caused by any defect in the pool. (Herron, supra, 546 S.E.2d at p. 19.)

The court explained:

"Under the present circumstances, it is plain that it is not reasonably foreseeable that a mother would leave her three-year-old daughter unsupervised near an uncovered pool. ... The defendant was not supervising the child at the time of the incident and was not otherwise negligent in a manner that contributed to the child's death... . The defendant cannot be held responsible for the death of the child under these facts. To hold otherwise would be to make him strictly liable for injuries to the child which resulted from a failure of the child's mother to properly supervise her." (Id. at pp. 19-20.)