The case:

X is Y’s next door neighbor. Y regularly drops off Y’s child, C, for X to babysit for the afternoon. In return, Y typically (although not always) buys X groceries and other items. Y brings C over to X’s house. X tells Y that “I am much too busy to pay close attention to C. C will have to look out for him/herself.” Y leaves and during the course of the afternoon X occasionally checks on C and gives C some food for lunch. C while left alone wanders into X’s unattended swimming pool and drowns to death. Y returns with groceries for X to find that C is dead. Is X liable for C’s death or is Y?


I know that there is no statute that addressed the obligation of parents or babysitters. Thus, even though X agrees to babysit, there is nothing backing Y's situation legally. In addition, X even said that X is busy that day. So I see Y as being liable for C's death. Does the law of omissions (duty) apply here?

1 Answer 1



Both seem to be at least negligent, if Y has left C without a reasonable expectation of care to be taken, and X has either created or allowed to be created a situation leading to injury, when reasonable steps could have prevented it.

If either person is responsible, the other must also be, since the situation could have been avoided by an action that either took and which neither chose to take.

Actual law and precedent would be the only way to decide this for a jurisdiction.

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