Did you know you can sue your parents for skimping out on your childhood birthday gifts? You can, but you’ll probably lose. Two years after Steven and Kathryn Miner, both in their 20s, sued their mother, Kimberly Garrity, for bad parenting during their formative years, the case has been dismissed. Their $500,000 lawsuit accused 55-year-old Garrity of causing her adult kids emotional distress.
Their claims about their poor upbringing had more to do with what mom didn’t do, than what she did. For starters: she didn’t send her son college care packages, or buy her daughter the homecoming dress she wanted. And their birthday cards? No cash or checks, just Hallmark sentiments.
Among the allegations:
— Garrity would give clothes and toys to Kathryn and not Steven.
— Kathryn asked her mother to take her to an auto show, but Garrity refused and took the boy instead.
— Steven was given college financial assistance, but the daughter was not, despite her requests.
— Steven was given money for an all-terrain vehicle, but Kathryn was refused money for dresses, dances, and graduation.
— Birthday cards failed to include money or gifts.
— As a 7-year-old, Steven became emotionally upset when Mom ordered him in a harsh manner to buckle his seat belt.
The Chicago Tribune reports Exhibit A in the case was a check-free birthday card for Steven, now 23.
“The card pictured tomatoes on a table with one tomato that had googly eyes. Inside the card read: ‘Son I got you this Birthday card because it’s just like you…different from all the rest! Have a great day! Love & Hugs, Mom xoxoxo.'”
An Illinois court of appeals judge decided this card, and other evidence of Garrity’s proposed “bad mothering”, weren’t grounds for punishment.
“Such alleged actions are unpleasant and perhaps insensitive, and some would arguably fall outside the realm of ‘good mothering,’ but they are not so shocking as to form a basis for a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress,” said Judge Kathy Flanagan in a court statement, adding that ruling in favor of the children “could potentially open the floodgates to subject family child rearing to … excessive judicial scrutiny and interference.”
A little family history about the people in this story: Ms. Garrity divorced the children’s father, also named Steven Miner, in 1995. Mr. Miner, a successful Chicago attorney, raised the children in the lavish Chicago suburb of Barrington. They grew up in apparent privilege in a home valued at around $1.5 million.
But there’s more to the story than just a couple of spoiled adult kids. The kids got their case handled for free by their father, while the mother had to shell out for her own legal fees.
Garrity’s attorney claims the lawsuit was her ex-husband’s attempt at the “ultimate revenge”; however, the senior Steven Miner says he tried to talk his kids out the lawsuit before representing them.
Other claims against Garrity’s mothering ability filed in the case, include threatening to call the police if her son didn’t wear his seatbelt and forcing her daughter to come home from a homecoming party at midnight. The most serious accusation claimed Garrity once slapped her son upside the head, causing him what he alleges are chronic headaches, according to ABC News.
The judge called the claims “petty grievances of parental attention or inadequacy.”
It’s not the first time kids have sued their own parents. Gary Coleman and a handful of other child stars have taken their parents to court over misappropriation of finances. And in 1978 a 24-year old man named Tom Hansen sued his mom and dad for “malpractice of parenting.” His $350,000 suit claimed his parents tried “to channel me in the direction they wanted me to go” and “spent nothing for what I wanted, nothing on music or art.” Hansen’s suit, like the Miners’, was also dismissed.
Father-slash-attorney Steven Miner told the court his kids weren’t out to get back at their mom, they just wanted her to assume some accountability. “Everyone makes mistakes, but … there must be accountability for actions,” he wrote in a statement for the court. “Parenting is no different.”
Despite the ruling, the Miner kids may get the accountability they were looking for. Kimberly Garrity’s attorney suggests that her client’s legal fees may end up costing her more than 18 years worth of birthday checks.