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DorrieW

Laws on Suing Teens Under the Age of 18

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I am working on a project, I am unable to find laws on the ability or inabilities to sue teenagers ANYWHERE. I live in Alaska and would like to know state and federal laws on suing minors. Is it legal? What are the laws? Are there restrictions? 

 Thank you 

~ Dorrie

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Yes, it's legal.

 

You aren't likely to find any laws that say it's legal.

 

That's because there aren't any laws prohibiting it.

 

Teenagers are not immune to lawsuits for their negligence and/or torts any more than they are immune to prosecution for criminal offenses.

 

However, there is one exception and that's for breach of contract. A teenager who is not yet 18 does not have the legal capacity to contract and can generally (few exceptions) repudiate contracts.

 

Perhaps you can explain why you want to sue a particular teenager. You might get some helpful comments.

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Suing a minor may be possible, and consulting a local attorney might be a good place to start.  Many attorneys offer a free consultation which would mean even if you chose not to hire an attorney, they may be able to point you in the right direction at no cost to you.  Additionally, suing the minors parents under a theory of vicarious liability might be another option which may be available in Alaska, and you wish to consider, since as a rule, minor children have limited funds to pay any judgment against them.

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However, there is one exception and that's for breach of contract. A teenager who is not yet 18 does not have the legal capacity to contract and can generally (few exceptions) repudiate contracts.

 

A couple of quick comments here.  Although the age of majority in most states, including Alaska, is 18, the federal age of majority is 21.  Also, just because a minor may generally disaffirm (repudiating is something very different) a contract, that does not mean the minor is immune from suit for breach of contract.

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I am working on a project, I am unable to find laws on the ability or inabilities to sue teenagers ANYWHERE. I live in Alaska and would like to know state and federal laws on suing minors. Is it legal? What are the laws? Are there restrictions? 

 Thank you 

~ Dorrie

 

Search through Alaska's Rules of Civil Procedure, it mentions infants and incompetents.

 

Here is the Federal;

 

c) Minor or Incompetent Person.

 

(1) With a Representative. The following representatives may sue or defend on behalf of a minor or an incompetent person:

(A) a general guardian;

b; a committee;

© a conservator; or

(D) a like fiduciary.

(2) Without a Representative. A minor or an incompetent person who does not have a duly appointed representative may sue by a next friend or by a guardian ad litem. The court must appoint a guardian ad litem—or issue another appropriate order—to protect a minor or incompetent person who is unrepresented in an action.

 

http://www.law.cornell.edu/rules/frcp/rule_17

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Search through Alaska's Rules of Civil Procedure, it mentions infants and incompetents.

 

Here is the Federal;

 

c) Minor or Incompetent Person.

 

(1) With a Representative. The following representatives may sue or defend on behalf of a minor or an incompetent person:

(A) a general guardian;

b; a committee;

© a conservator; or

(D) a like fiduciary.

(2) Without a Representative. A minor or an incompetent person who does not have a duly appointed representative may sue by a next friend or by a guardian ad litem. The court must appoint a guardian ad litem—or issue another appropriate order—to protect a minor or incompetent person who is unrepresented in an action.

 

http://www.law.cornell.edu/rules/frcp/rule_17

 

The OP is asking about the ability of other people to sue the minor. What you have posted concerns how the minor may sue others or defend suits filed against them. In short, this deals with the flip side of what the OP asked about. Moreover, it’s important for the OP to understand that the federal rule you quoted applies only in federal court. The states have their own rules on how a minor may sue or defend in the courts of their state. Most civil actions are filed in state courts, not federal courts.

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The OP is asking about the ability of other people to sue the minor. What you have posted concerns how the minor may sue others or defend suits filed against them. In short, this deals with the flip side of what the OP asked about. Moreover, it’s important for the OP to understand that the federal rule you quoted applies only in federal court. The states have their own rules on how a minor may sue or defend in the courts of their state. Most civil actions are filed in state courts, not federal courts.

 

He asked about federal court too!

 

Also, the subheading is in that law;

 

b  Capacity to Sue or Be Sued. Capacity to sue or be sued is determined as follows:

 

So my link is correct.

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He asked about federal court too!

 

Also, the subheading is in that law;

 

b  Capacity to Sue or Be Sued. Capacity to sue or be sued is determined as follows:

 

So my link is correct.

 

He did ask about federal laws — my point was to make clear to him that the rule you cited is on that applies only in federal court, however.

 

Second, you quoted paragraph FRCP 17 paragraph (c ), which is separate from paragraph (b ). Paragraph (b ) does discuss capacity to sue or be sued, but it does not mention minors at all and thus doesn't apply to the question asked. Paragraph (c ) does discuss how minors may sue or defend the lawsuits against them. But as I said before, that is the flip side of the question the OP asked. The OP asked about the rules for how someone sues a minor, not the rules for the minor suing someone else or for how the minor defends a lawsuit filed against him. In other words, he's asking about what rules apply to the person seeking to sue the a minor, not what rules apply to the minor himself. What you cited deals with the latter. 

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Yes, it's legal.

 

You aren't likely to find any laws that say it's legal.

 

That's because there aren't any laws prohibiting it.

 

Teenagers are not immune to lawsuits for their negligence and/or torts any more than they are immune to prosecution for criminal offenses.

 

However, there is one exception and that's for breach of contract. A teenager who is not yet 18 does not have the legal capacity to contract and can generally (few exceptions) repudiate contracts.

 

Perhaps you can explain why you want to sue a particular teenager. You might get some helpful comments.

I am the teenager. My father died and his worksite put a large sum of money into a savings fund so I could go to college as in 'apology' of my only parent dying on worksite. Any guardian who took care of would sue my estate after I left to live with another for compensation of their time and efforts. 

In my class we are creating bills, and mine is to prevent this from happening to anyone else because now my college fund is almost gone and without a parents my financial situation is looking grim.

Although, to create the bill I obviously need substantial evidence, laws, and research.

 

Thank you all for your help and comments.

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