Is a Parent Who Entrusts An Infant Child With a Dangerous Instrument Which Creates a Danger to Society Liable ?
In Gelbman v. Gelbman (23 NY2d 434, 439 1969), the Court of Appeals "abolished the defense of intrafamily tort immunity for nonwillful torts."
Just five years later, in Holodook v. Spencer (36 NY2d 35 1974), that Court recognized an exception to its abrogation of that immunity rule.
Specifically, it held that "a parent's negligent failure to supervise a child" will generally "not ... constitute a tort actionable by the child" (see, LaTorre v. Genesee Mgt., 90 NY2d 576, 579 1997).
Thereafter, in Nolechek v. Gesuale (46 NY2d 332, 341 1978), presented with a situation in which a parent placed a dangerous instrument, namely, a motorcycle, into the hands of a child who was blind in one eye and vision impaired in the other, and who died in a tragic accident, that Court carved out what it described as a "sound exception" to the "sound rule of the Holodook case."
Thus, the Court of Appeals held that "a parent who entrusts an infant child with a dangerous instrument creates a danger to all society," and that "it would be repulsive to permit, under the guise of protecting intrafamily relations, such a parent to escape all liability to a 'concurrent' tort-feasor who suffers financial harm as a consequence of the child's inappropriate use of the dangerous instrument and resulting injury" (id., at 341).