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Dad Sues Son's Grandma Over Severed Hand

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By Andrew Chow, Esq. on July 30, 2012 9:01 AM

A severed hand lawsuit blames a 5-year-old boy's grandmother for negligence that allegedly resulted in the boy's injury.

The boy's father filed suit against Sharon Setz, 52, of Thomaston, Maine, who was driving a vehicle with her twin 5-year-old grandsons in June, the Bangor Daily News reports.

One of the twins, Noah Keene, tied a jump rope around his wrist. The other end of the rope, which was dangling out the window, got caught on one of the vehicle's wheels and severed Noah's left hand.

The severed hand lawsuit by Noah's father, Anthony Pignone of Dennis, Mass., alleges Sharon Setz was negligent in failing to supervise her grandson and allowing him to dangle the rope out the window, according to the Bangor Daily News.

In a negligence suit, an injured party must generally prove someone else breached a duty of care, which in turn caused the victim's injury. In general, parents and guardians have a legal duty to use reasonable care in controlling a child, especially if the child is known to do careless things or cause trouble.

Pignone is also suing Setz on behalf of his other son, Noah's twin, who witnessed the accident and allegedly suffered emotional and psychological distress, according to the Daily News.

In general, an immediate family member or bystander who witnesses a victim's direct injury may be able to sue for emotional distress under certain conditions. Factors may include whether the witness was in actual danger of physical injury, and whether the injury was caused by extreme and outrageous conduct.

The success of the severed hand lawsuit may turn on whether Sharon Setz knew her grandson Noah Keene had dangled the jump rope out the window. A website collecting donations for Noah, whose hand was reattached after 14 hours of surgery, states his actions were "unbeknownst to his grandmother." If the case goes to trial, that's something a court will likely have to decide.

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