Mothers and Other Strangers

Our guest columnist is Justice Joseph Gordon of the Illinois Appellate Court. The plaintiffs, who grew up in a $1.5 million home, were represented by their father.

Twenty-one-year-old Steven A. Miner II and 18-year-old Kathryn Miner, the children of Kimberly A. Garrity, brought suit against Garrity for “bad mothering.” Both sought damages in excess of $50,000 for intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent infliction of emotional distress, as well as punitive damages…

Plaintiffs’ complaint alleges that on November 17, 1995, when Steven was seven and Kathryn was four, Garrity and their biological father were divorced. The father was granted sole custody of Steven. The parents had joint legal custody over Kathryn, who resided at her father’s house and had visitation with her mother.

According to the complaint, ever since the divorce, Garrity has “engaged in a course of conduct which has caused both the intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress to STEVEN and KATHRYN.” The complaint alleges that this conduct is fueled, in part, by Garrity’s desire to retaliate against her ex-husband, toward whom she harbors great animosity.

The complaint provides a lengthy list of the many ways in which Garrity allegedly inflicted emotional distress upon the plaintiffs, as follows:

• After the divorce, Garrity tried to obtain custody of Kathryn, arguing that the plaintiffs ought to be separated since Steven had been abused by a female adult and therefore might abuse Kathryn. (According to the complaint, this was ironic, since Garrity was the one who abused Steven in the first place. The complaint does not specify what kind of abuse Garrity allegedly committed.) Eventually, the parents agreed to the custody compromise described above.

• Garrity allegedly treated the siblings unequally in an attempt to “pit the siblings against each other.” From 1997 to 2007, Kathryn regularly visited Garrity, but Steven did not; Garrity would give clothes and toys to Kathryn during her visits, but she did not give anything to Steven. At other times, according to the complaint, Garrity would favor Steven over Kathryn. Although Kathryn asked Garrity to bring her to an auto show in 2006 and a car race in 1998, Garrity refused and instead brought Steven. When both siblings attended events with Garrity, Garrity would allegedly dote on Steven and ignore Kathryn’s requests. Garrity also allegedly favored Steven in financial matters. When Steven asked for college financial assistance, Garrity willingly contributed, but when Kathryn asked for the same, Garrity allegedly refused. Likewise, Garrity willingly contributed to Steven’s purchase of an all-terrain vehicle, but when Kathryn asked for money for homecoming, for disco dances in 2006 and 2007, and for her graduation dress in 2009, Garrity allegedly “engaged in bartering and haggling.”

• Under the terms of the divorce, Garrity is responsible for paying half of the plaintiffs’ medical expenses that are not covered by insurance. However, according to the complaint, Garrity does not trust the plaintiffs to accurately report their medical expenses but requires that they provide her with receipts.

• Garrity allegedly told Steven that she did not want to be “financially drained” by the plaintiffs.

• Garrity allegedly failed to send Christmas and birthday presents to Steven from 1996 to 2005 and failed to send presents to Kathryn in 2007. Moreover, according to the complaint, when she sends cards to them, she often “forgets that STEVEN and KATHRYN are children, failing to include any type of gift in the card.”

• Garrity allegedly refers to the plaintiffs’ father as the “Disneyland” parent.

• Since the divorce, Garrity allegedly has not taken Steven to a health or mental health care provider, and she has only taken Kathryn on two occasions.

• Prior to Garrity’s remarriage, Garrity allegedly lived together with a man. (It is not clear from the complaint whether this man is the man that she eventually married.) Garrity told Kathryn during visitation that this behavior was appropriate because they were engaged. The complaint states that Kathryn “was so stressed that she gained significant weight as a result.”

• Both Steven and Kathryn had a close relationship with their paternal grandmother and with a man whom they called “Pops.” When Garrity learned of this, she allegedly sought to destroy their relationship by refusing to allow them to be looked after by their paternal grandmother and “Pops.”…

• In 1989, prior to the divorce, while Steven’s father was at work, Steven’s right arm was fractured. Garrity allegedly told different people different stories about what happened: she told the father that it occurred while Steven was at daycare (while refusing to place a claim with the daycare’s medical insurance provider), she told Steven’s paternal grandmother that it occurred while Steven was with a friend, and she later told Steven that it occurred while he was with a babysitter.

• In December 1994, Garrity asked Steven a question, and Steven replied. (The complaint does not elaborate upon what they said.) Garrity then allegedly “smacked him to the head.” Steven subsequently told his father that he hated Garrity and wanted to run away from home.

• In May 1995, also prior to the divorce, Steven gave Garrity a popsicle stick jewelry box for Mother’s Day. He subsequently asked her to give the box back. When Garrity refused, Steven took the box anyway. Garrity allegedly claimed that she had a diamond necklace in that box and called the police to report that Steven had stolen it.

• In August 1995, during a car ride, Garrity told Steven that if he did not buckle his seatbelt, she would drive to the police station and tell the police that he would not put his seatbelt on.

• When Steven was seven years old, he asked Garrity to leave him alone. From that time until the time that Steven was emancipated, Garrity had no contact with him.

• In 1996, Garrity filed an emergency motion with the circuit court seeking to have the plaintiffs’ father held in contempt of court. In that motion, she alleged that the father allowed eight-year-old Steven to “brain wash” Kathryn so that Kathryn refused to go to visitation with Garrity.

• When Steven was at college, Garrity did not send Steven any care packages until his 6th semester when she was prompted to do so by his father.

• Although Steven has sought an apology from Garrity for her actions toward him, Garrity has allegedly refused to apologize and, in fact, has frequently refused even to acknowledge that the actions in question occurred…

• After the divorce, Garrity remarried and changed her surname, thus “causing attention” whenever she attended events at Kathryn’s school because of their different surnames.

• From 1997 to 2007, Kathryn visited Garrity’s house on weekends. Garrity did not keep allergy medications in her house, so Kathryn was, in the words of the complaint, “forced” to bring her own medications. In addition, when Garrity would pick Kathryn up after school on Fridays, she would not drive Kathryn to her father’s house so that Kathryn could pick up her weekend bag. As a result, Kathryn was “forced” to bring her weekend bag to school with her on Fridays.

• In late 1996 and/or early 1997, Kathryn wished to speak with a female mental health care professional. Garrity allegedly insisted on interviewing each of the three candidates, but took “an extraordinary amount of time” to do so. Consequently, Kathryn went back to seeing her previous mental health care professional.

• Garrity refused to purchase Kathryn a dress for homecoming in 2007. She provided an automobile, but at midnight, when Kathryn was with her friends, Garrity allegedly contacted Kathryn and made her return the automobile. Moreover, Garrity allegedly related this incident to a female priest at a church where Kathryn worked as a lay assistant. The priest then spoke with Kathryn regarding the incident. As a result, according to the complaint, Kathryn believed that God was angry with her and was unable to set foot in that church for several months because she believed that “everyone was looking at her with disfavor.”

• Despite the fact that Garrity is required to pay half of the plaintiffs’ medical expenses as described above, Garrity refused to pay half of the cost of an over-the-counter skin medication purchased by Kathryn in 2007, because it was not a prescription medication.

• Upon graduating from high school in 2009, Kathryn asked Garrity to give her certain savings bonds that Garrity “maintained dominion and control over as the secondary joint tenant or the paid on death (‘P.O.D.’) beneficiary.” Garrity sent Kathryn a text telling her that she could pick up her bonds the next day and also telling her to bring a car large enough to pick up all of her belongings. When Kathryn arrived at Garrity’s house, Garrity had packed all of Kathryn’s belongings that were at her house.

• In May 2009, Garrity asked Kathryn to attend an event at her church to bless new students who would be attending college in the fall. Kathryn attended that event, although she did not want to. However, Garrity did not attend the event.

The complaint… alleges that, in committing these acts, Garrity intended to cause severe emotional distress to Steven and also acted in reckless disregard knowing that such distress would result from her actions. It further claims that due to Garrity’s actions, Steven has suffered actual damages, both physical and emotional. With regard to physical damages, it alleges that Steven has experienced recurring headaches as a result of Garrity smacking him on the head. With regard to his emotional damages, it states that he is seeking help from a mental health care professional and a religious care provider who is also a social worker…

The complaint does not allege that Kathryn has suffered physical damages, but only emotional damages. Specifically, it alleges that Garrity’s conduct has made Kathryn “nervous and upset.”

Miner v. Garrity [Illinois Appellate Court/PDF]

Adult children’s ‘bad mothering’ lawsuit dismissed [McClatchy]


Wow. Despite the sometimes acrimonious/minor dysfunctional relationship I’ve had with my parents I wouldn’t even think of doing that. Ever.

I think that the attorney has spoiled idiot brats for clients and their father should be ashamed of himself (doubtful.)

The plaintiff awoke before dawn, he put his boots on
He took a page from the dumbass gallery
And he walked on down the hall
He went into the room where his sister lived, and…then he
And he came to a door…and he looked inside
Father, yes son, I want you to represent me
Mother…I want to…SUE you

People say there should be tests for gun ownership while there should be tests for reproduction. Biology is too easy.

but when Kathryn asked for money for…disco dances…Garrity allegedly “engaged in bartering and haggling.”

I think I still owe my mother something for not allowing me to go to any “disco dances”.

@ManchuCandidate: The kids’ attorney and their father are one and the same. That tells you all you need to know.

@SanFranLefty: Can the judge punch the plaintiffs’ attorney in the face?

@FlyingChainSaw: I hope the judge orders the attorney/dad to pay mom’s attorney fees in defending this nonsense.

Meanwhile poors rot in jail, waiting for a few minutes of Justice’s precious time…

Also, I take High Umbrage with that photo illustration. Both my favorite Care Bear, Loves a Lot, and my sister’s favorite, Grumpy, are missing. Somewhere in my parents’ basements are photos of the two of us dressed as said Care Bears for Halloween. That was way, way before the days of Facebook, thanks be to baby Jesus.

@flippin eck: You should sue nojo for intentional infliction of emotional distress. The kids’ dad could represent you, since he’s apparently all about the frivolous lawsuits.

Just how many of those fucking bears are there?

Add a Comment
Please log in to post a comment