CanI sue my sister-in-law for items damaged by her children?

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CanI sue my sister-in-law for items damaged by her children?

When my sister-in-law comes to my house she does not control her children. They took a knife to an $800 leather couch that I just bought. Additionally, and without asking, she put the kids in my new born baby’s room to play where they broke my $450 crib. When I ask her to pay for the items she just laughs and says she doesn’t work. Her husband works but he refuses to pay saying all kids act that way.

Asked on January 18, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

OF COURSE you may sue someone for damage caused by her children, especially due to her failure to control them. Her husband may feel that all kids act that way, but legally, his opinion does not have a leg to stand on; parents have an obligation to control their children and to prevent them from causing injury, property damage, economic loss, etc. So you may indeed sue your sister in law and her family for the losses or damages they have caused your family. Small claims court would be the proper venue for this.

On a non-legal note: if the children play with knives and will break a baby's crib, consider whether you should have them over with your baby; they could do more harm than property damage, especially if you do sue and they then suffer any repurcussions from their family, causing resentment of your family.


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