Economics and the mid-life crisis have much in common: Both dwell on foregone opportunities

C'est la vie; c'est la guerre; c'est la pomme de terre . . . . . . . . . . . . . email: jpalmer at uwo dot ca

. . . . . . . . . . .Richard Posner should be awarded the next Nobel Prize in Economics . . . . . . . . . . . .

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Incentive Effects, Parental Responsibility, and Tort Law

The parents of a 17-year-0ld young man in Ohio have been held 70% liable for his actions: he stabbed a 13-year-old girl.

Lance and Diane White share 70 percent of the blame for the 2003 attack on Casey Hilmer, the Hamilton County jury found Friday. Their son Benjamin, who was 17 at the time, bears the rest.

... Court records indicate that the Whites' son had a history of aggressive attacks on classmates and drug abuse, and that his parents knew he carried a knife. In Ohio, parents can be held liable if they negligently entrust a weapon to their child.

The jury foreman... said jurors held the parents responsible because they found no evidence that they had disciplined their son.
It should not take long for parents of such children in the future to
  • take such weapons away from their children, or
  • failing that, report the possession of the weapons to the local police force.

It won't stop the children from obtaining knives, but it will make it less likely they will have the knives with them as often. The only question is about the size of this incentive effect. I expect it will be larger in the long run than in the short run.

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