Law doesn’t contain presumption on negligence

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Appellant-Defendant, Clay City Consolidated School Corporation (Clay City Schools), appeals the trial court’s denial of its motion to correct error and Order on remittitur awarding Appellees-Plaintiffs, Ronna Timberman (Mother) and John Pipes II (Father), $300,000 after a jury verdict. Clay City Schools raises seven issues for our review, one of which we find dispositive and restate as: (1) Whether the trial court abused its discretion by instructing the jury in Final Instruction No. 20 that a thirteen-year-old boy is presumed to be incapable of contributory negligence.

(slip op. at 24):  We conclude that the trial court committed reversible error when instructing the jury that Indiana law contains a rebuttable presumption that children between the age of seven and fourteen cannot be contributorily negligent. Reversed and remanded.

Key Analysis
(slip op. at 13):  We conclude that Indiana law does not conclusively contain a presumption either in favor or against seven to fourteen-year-olds with respect to whether they can be found liable for their negligent acts . . . The focus of Indiana law on the issue of when a child age seven to fourteen can be held liable in negligence for his or her acts is primarily determined by an inquiry into whether the child exercised the level of care that should be expected of a child of like age, knowledge, judgment, and experience in that situation.

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Bose McKinney & Evans LLP is a business law firm, headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, serving both publicly held and privately held businesses, governmental entities and high-growth industries. Our clients include Fortune 100 companies, international manufacturers, national and regional financial institutions, agribusinesses, sports teams, university-incubated start-ups, media, utilities, cities and schools, to name a few. We strive to build strong relationships with our clients as key business advisors, to exceed expectations in the quality of our work, to be knowledgeable about our clients’ businesses and sectors, to be responsive to service needs and to continually seek to improve the delivery of client services. Our ultimate focus is on our clients.
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