Rankin Savidge secured a summary judgment dismissal in the matter of Amantia v. Bell, Supreme Court, Suffolk County, involving an infant plaintiff who sustained personal injuries while playing together with an infant defendant on his parents’ property. Plaintiff alleged that defendants were negligent in the supervision of the infant plaintiff and infant defendant while they were engaged in play with a tennis ball and bat and that the infant defendant was himself negligent in the manner in which he conducted their game. Defendants argued that the infant defendant was not negligent as his actions were within the ordinary course of the game and that the infant defendant’s parents were not negligent in the supervision of the infant plaintiff and defendant.
Supreme Court Justice George Nolan granted defendants’ motion for summary judgment, holding that there was no evidence that the infant defendant was using the bat improperly or that it was not suitable for a boy of his age. Furthermore, Hon. Nolan found that the infant defendant was using the bat for its intended purpose and under the circumstances the bat was not a dangerous instrument. Hon. Nolan found that plaintiff’s general allegations of negligence were insufficient to raise a triable issue of fact. Furthermore, the Court found that there was nothing inherently unreasonable about the way the two boys were conducting their game.
In granting defendants’ motion, the Court stressed the long-standing principle in New York that “if children were to be held liable for damages resulting from accidents occurring during play, it would not only open the door for a new and vast field of litigation, but would also make it necessary for children to stand about with folded hands for fear they might negligently brush against one of their fellows and become liable”. (quoting Sutfin v. Scheuer, 145 A.D.2d 946 [4th Dept. 1988]).