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‘Sleepover liability’ opinion is withdrawn

The Supreme Court of Virginia has withdrawn its opinion declaring a common law duty for host parents to “supervise and care” for a sleepover guest.

The opinion in Kellermann v. McDonough allowed a civil trial of  a couple who permitted their daughter and a visiting friend to ride with a 17-year-old boy.  The ride ended in the death of the visiting 14-year-old girl.

In July, the entire Supreme Court agreed the host mother had assumed a duty of care to the visiting teen by promising her father to take care of her when the father expressly said, “no boys with cars.”  The court split five-to-two, however, in finding a general duty on the part of both host parents, without regard to any special ground rules for the sleepover.

In an order dated Sept. 16, the court withdrew its earlier opinion and granted a rehearing, setting oral argument on Oct. 21.

In the petition for rehearing, defense lawyer David Corrigan of Richmond argued liability for the criminal acts of third parties arises under Virginia law only when there is both a special relationship between the defendant and the third party and foreseeable harm.

Richmond lawyer Mark Krudys, who represents the family of the young accident victim, said he had no immediate comment on the court’s decision to rehear the case.

By Peter Vieth

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