Saturday, August 25, 2007
It's official law now -- teenagers do not NEED to have a car. The case, in addition to presenting a catchy policy issue to discuss, provides an excellent demonstration of statutory interpretation.
A young woman in foster care sued the county to compel payments for automobile liability insurance so that she could lawfully drive a car. The juvenile court denied her motion and the California Court of Appeals affirmed. The petitioner argued that federal and state statutes required the payments to her foster parents for auto insurance and provided a set of arguments regarding statutory interpretation that would make a fine example of the skill for new law students. She argued that federal and state statutes regarding payments to foster parents were designed to “secure for the minor custody, care, and discipline as nearly as possible equivalent to that which should have been given by his or her parents.” Moreover, those statutes included requirements that payments be made for “liability insurance with respect to a child” which she argued included auto liablity insurance. (42 U.S.C. § 675(4)(a); § 11460)
The court disagreed, interpreting the statutes to exclude auto liability insurance and concluding that "The care of a minor does not require payment for car insurance (as opposed to necessities such as food, clothing, and shelter)."
In re Corrine W., (Cal. App. August 22, 2007)
Opinion online (last visited August 24, 2007 bgf)