Judge: We can't have kids suing parents for an iPhone or Xbox

In a New Jersey case in which a teen is suing her parents for tuition fees and other bills, the judge fears kids will try to sue their parents to get gadgets.

She seems determined, doesn't she? CBS New York screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

In New Jersey, things tend to get emotional.

I am not merely referring to "The Sopranos" and the spontaneous traffic jams. I am referring to family life, as it's being exposed in a court case that is gripping the nation.

In one corner, we have high school student Rachel Canning, who allegedly moved out of her parents' house.

In the other, we have her former police chief father and his wife, Rachel Canning's mother.

Rachel is suing her parents because she believes they abandoned her, ergo they owe her for tuition fees, medical expenses, and other bills.

Her parents are countering that she moved out of her own volition and that she broke the rules they set at home.

I wouldn't dream of suggesting which side may have right in its mind. However, my own experience of New Jersey suggests that there might be fault on both sides of the family.

The judge who finds himself at the center of this dispute must be thinking: "WWJJD." Yes, What Would Judge Judy Do?

As the Star-Ledger reports, Family Division Judge Peter Bogaard is most worried about gadgets.

He told the court that if he agreed to Rachel Canning's plea for a financial order, this would mean "essentially a new law or a new way of interpreting an existing law."

His fear: "A kid could move out and then sue for an XBox, an iPhone, or a 60-inch television."

It's a deeply exciting concept, one that Nancy Grace would surely relish.

Please imagine kids all over America storming out of their houses and getting their lawyers to deliver ultimatums to their forlorn parents: "Either buy me a Samsung 4K or I ain't coming back. 'K?"

Who wouldn't relish the day when a kid sued mom and dad with these legal words: "Parents have failed in their duty to upgrade Maziella's iPhone 5 to an iPhone 5S"?

And what court wouldn't bend to this legal entreaty: "Parents defied Peea's request for an Xbox One. Instead, they deleteriously affected her image by purchasing something called a Playstation 4"?

Sometimes, parents aren't fully aware just how much the wrong gadget -- or, perish the idea, no gadget -- can affect their child's standing in the community.

Judge Bogaard has only made a preliminary decision for now to deny Rachel Canning's entreaties. Next month, he will return to her application for college tuition fees to be paid.

The question is whether he will attempt to create a precedent by specifically excluding gadgets in any potential copycat lawsuit. Are today's teens ready for an Xbox Xclusion Law?

 

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