Suing your Mom

The latest violation of the Commandment regarding honoring your father and your mother (though the divorced father is behind it):

Raised in a $1.5 million Barrington Hills home by their attorney father, two grown children have spent the last two years pursuing a unique lawsuit against their mom for “bad mothering” damages allegedly caused when she failed to buy toys for one and sent another a birthday card he didn’t like.

The alleged offenses include failing to take her daughter to a car show, telling her then-7-year-old son to buckle his seat belt or she would contact police, “haggling” over the amount to spend on party dresses and calling her daughter at midnight to ask that she return home from celebrating homecoming.

Last week, when the court record stood about a foot tall, an Illinois appeals court dismissed the case, finding that none of the mother’s conduct was “extreme or outrageous.” To rule in favor of her children, the court found, “could potentially open the floodgates to subject family child rearing to … excessive judicial scrutiny and interference.”

In 2009, the children, represented by three attorneys including their father, Steven A. Miner, sued their mother, Kimberly Garrity. Steven II, now 23, and his sister Kathryn, now 20, sought more than $50,000 for “emotional distress.”

Miner and Garrity were married for a decade before she filed for divorce in 1995, records show.

Among the exhibits filed in the case is a birthday card Garrity sent her son, who in his lawsuit sought damages because the card was “inappropriate” and failed to include cash or a check. He also alleged she failed to send a card for years or, while he was in college, care packages.

On the front of the American Greetings card is a picture of tomatoes spread across a table that are indistinguishable except for one in the middle with craft-store googly eyes attached.

“Son I got you this Birthday card because it’s just like you … different from all the rest!” the card reads. On the inside Garrity wrote, “Have a great day! Love & Hugs, Mom xoxoxo.”

In court papers, Garrity’s attorney Shelley Smith said the “litany of childish complaints and ingratitude” in the lawsuit is nothing more than an attempt by Garrity’s ex-husband to “seek the ultimate revenge” of having her children accuse her of “being an inadequate mother.”

“It would be laughable that these children of privilege would sue their mother for emotional distress, if the consequences were not so deadly serious” for Garrity, Smith wrote. “There is no insurance for this claim, so (Garrity) must pay her legal fees, while (the children) have their father for free.” . . .

Steven A. Miner [the father and one of his children's attorneys in the case] wrote that the case is no different from a patient suing a physician “for bad doctoring.”

The children “do not view their (lawsuit) as an attack on mothering, but rather on accountability,” he wrote. “Everyone makes mistakes, but … there must be accountability for actions. Parenting is no different.”

via Children sue mom over party dresses, birthday card and toys – chicagotribune.com.

HT:  Kirk Anderson

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://www.brandywinebooks.net Lars Walker

    Let me say this carefully. There are those among us (I am in fact one of them) who could have mounted a serious lawsuit along these lines. But even then it would be a bad thing, because it would tend to transfer the rearing of children to the state, producing results that would be a disaster for society. Allowing free parents the freedom to be bad parents is an imperfect system. Imposing bad (institutionalized) child-rearing on all the children would be an abomination.

  • http://www.brandywinebooks.net Lars Walker

    Let me say this carefully. There are those among us (I am in fact one of them) who could have mounted a serious lawsuit along these lines. But even then it would be a bad thing, because it would tend to transfer the rearing of children to the state, producing results that would be a disaster for society. Allowing free parents the freedom to be bad parents is an imperfect system. Imposing bad (institutionalized) child-rearing on all the children would be an abomination.

  • Dennis Peskey

    The State of Illinois wasted two years on this foolishness – that is the very definition of waste. That the Illinois courts imposed no sanctions upon Steven Miner (the lawyer/father) for his involvement in this sham speaks loudly about the State of Illinois. The only avenue left is for Mr. Miner to seek national office – he should fit in quite nicely with the Washington mentality. Lord have mercy on us all.
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • Dennis Peskey

    The State of Illinois wasted two years on this foolishness – that is the very definition of waste. That the Illinois courts imposed no sanctions upon Steven Miner (the lawyer/father) for his involvement in this sham speaks loudly about the State of Illinois. The only avenue left is for Mr. Miner to seek national office – he should fit in quite nicely with the Washington mentality. Lord have mercy on us all.
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • kerner

    These kids (young adults now) are being either manipulated or enabled by their father to harm their mother. The bitterness that can exist between ex-spouses is well known and obvious, but letting it spill out of the family court system into the civil lawsuit system would be an horrendously bad idea. The vehicle for hatred would just go on and on and on.

  • kerner

    These kids (young adults now) are being either manipulated or enabled by their father to harm their mother. The bitterness that can exist between ex-spouses is well known and obvious, but letting it spill out of the family court system into the civil lawsuit system would be an horrendously bad idea. The vehicle for hatred would just go on and on and on.

  • Rev. David Mueller

    If that birthday card had read, “different *than* all the rest”, I would support the lawsuit. But since it used “from” properly, than it’s clearly frivolous.
    As for the state of the state of Illinois–I’m just glad I don’t live 12 miles further west (which would put me across the IL-IN border). Such a lawsuit having been given this much time is no surprise.

  • Rev. David Mueller

    If that birthday card had read, “different *than* all the rest”, I would support the lawsuit. But since it used “from” properly, than it’s clearly frivolous.
    As for the state of the state of Illinois–I’m just glad I don’t live 12 miles further west (which would put me across the IL-IN border). Such a lawsuit having been given this much time is no surprise.

  • WebMonk

    +1 kerner

    It’s a divorce situation that seems extremely ugly. I’m sad the courts let it go on for as long as they did.

  • WebMonk

    +1 kerner

    It’s a divorce situation that seems extremely ugly. I’m sad the courts let it go on for as long as they did.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    There should have been harsh sanctions against the father for manipulating his children and wasting the taxpayers’ resources on executing a meritless personal vendetta against his ex-spouse.

    Ridiculous.

    Maybe his kids will now sue him for “bad lawyering.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    There should have been harsh sanctions against the father for manipulating his children and wasting the taxpayers’ resources on executing a meritless personal vendetta against his ex-spouse.

    Ridiculous.

    Maybe his kids will now sue him for “bad lawyering.”

  • –helen

    The courts should require the losers to pay the legal fees of the defendant mother. This is nonsense!

  • –helen

    The courts should require the losers to pay the legal fees of the defendant mother. This is nonsense!

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ Carol-Christian Soldier

    torte reform and Loser PAYS…
    frivolous law suits must go!
    Carol-=CS

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ Carol-Christian Soldier

    torte reform and Loser PAYS…
    frivolous law suits must go!
    Carol-=CS

  • michael henry

    Perhaps if they had pursued the case in terms of their “orientation” being violated they would have won.

  • michael henry

    Perhaps if they had pursued the case in terms of their “orientation” being violated they would have won.

  • WebMonk

    C-CS, I deeply, deeply disagree with your call for torte reform!!

    Tortes are perfect just the way they are!

    Now, if you were to call for tort reform, I would be right with you. :-D

    Slightly more seriously, I would amend “Loser pays” to “plaintiff pays if he loses”. When the defendant loses, the lawyer costs are typically built into the compensation the plaintiff requests.

  • WebMonk

    C-CS, I deeply, deeply disagree with your call for torte reform!!

    Tortes are perfect just the way they are!

    Now, if you were to call for tort reform, I would be right with you. :-D

    Slightly more seriously, I would amend “Loser pays” to “plaintiff pays if he loses”. When the defendant loses, the lawyer costs are typically built into the compensation the plaintiff requests.


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