“Let kids sue parents”

by Walter Olson on February 6, 2007

Such a grand idea from an anti-smoking campaigner up North: “Children should be able to sue their parents for exposing them to harmful second-hand cigarette smoke, an Alberta doctor says.” Dr. Larry Bryan, who worked on a provincial commission that planned out anti-tobacco measures, “says banning puffing in cars or homes would be very difficult to enforce. But he believes the message would come across loud and clear if smokers were held legally responsible for their actions through exposure-related lawsuits. “(Michelle Mark, “Let kids sue parents”, Edmonton Sun, Feb. 4).

Meanwhile, regulation creeps forward on other fronts: “Texas will join a handful of states that prohibit foster parents from smoking in front of children in their homes and cars when a new state rule takes effect January first. Under rules passed this year, foster parents can’t smoke in their homes if they have foster children living there. They also can’t smoke while driving if children are in the car. Other states with similar smoking laws include Vermont, Washington and Maine.” Roy Block, president of the Texas Foster Family Association, says rules of this sort discourage Texas families from stepping forward to offer themselves as foster parents; most states do not exactly enjoy a surfeit of applicants well-qualified on other grounds (“Texas To Prohibit Foster Parent Smoking”, AP/WOAI, Dec. 4).

{ 6 comments }

1 JKoerner 02.06.07 at 11:41 am

That would work well. Step 1: get an umbrella insurance policy; step 2: smoke around your kids and then sue yourself for the policy limit on their behalf; step 3: profit

2 Tex Mex 02.06.07 at 1:25 pm

Hurry with steps 1 through 3 above so that your suit can be filed prior to the advent of “tobacco exclusions” on insurance policies.

Not to worry however:

Step 4) sue insurance company – argue to invalidate “tobacco exclusions” as against public policy, because, this is “for the children”.

Step 5) trying not to smirk, argue that insurance application forms asking whether anyone in the household is a smoker is an invasion of privacy and not a reasonable underwriting criteria – throw in a few discrimination/red-lining allegations.

Step 6: Express shock and outrage when premiums escalate and become unaffordable to lower income familiies. Accuse insurance companies of “price gouging”. Call for price controls…

Step 7: Apply for job with the John Edwards campaign.

3 Walter E. Wallis 02.06.07 at 1:26 pm

When do parents get to sue their kids for being snots? Or for not doing chores?

4 Deoxy 02.06.07 at 5:30 pm

Actually, while not entirely practical (shortage of foster parents, etc), the regulations on foster parents is really quite reasonable.

The other thing is psychotic, of course.

5 Amy Alkon 02.07.07 at 9:06 pm

Parents are ticketed or charged with child endangerment for not using car seats. Should that law be repealed? Where do you draw the line between a parent’s freedom and the best interest of the child?

6 Deoxy 02.08.07 at 11:12 am

The car seats law bothers me for the same reason that seat belt laws in general bother me: not the government’s business, nor do they have the authority to MAKE it their business.

So yeah, those laws should be repealed. They are outside the government’s authority to have passed in the first place (and they aren’t remotely the only ones).

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