McHale, Watson, and another young girl were playing tag. Watson was 12 years old at the time. At the end of the game, Watson threw a sharpened metal rod at a piece of wood and it bounced off and hits McHale in the eye causing permanent blindness. McHale sued for damages. McHale was unsuccessful at the lower court which she appealed.
- Should children be assessed based on the adult standard of care?
McTiernan, in the majority, held that Watson was acting as a normal 12 year old boy would, and cannot be expected to have the perceptions of risk that an adult should have. The act was not done intentionally to hurt McHale, and the judge states that a "reasonable" 12 year old boy would not expect this action to create this outcome.
Menzies, in the dissent, held that negligence is an objective standard and thus the appeal should be allowed - Watson assessed against the "reasonable man". Even if the standard was a "reasonable boy", he felt that Watson was negligent in the circumstances...
The adult standard of care should not be used to assess negligence in children.