You Be the Judge: Kid Damages Expensive Art. Who Pays?

Jun 29, 2018 | Allen A. Ritchie

Deciding the law is not often easy. Take a moment and you be the judge. How would you rule?


Mom takes her 5-year-old son to a public building that has an art exhibit. All the art work seems to be protected, but apparently at least one piece is not. It is a glass statue sitting on a pedestal and the little boy jumps up to give it a hug. Down goes the statue and it shatters.  The sculpture is worth $132,000. Who pays?

This is a real case that has not yet been decided. At issue is compensation for the artist. He says either someone must repair the sculpture, so he can sell it, or they have to pay him for 2 years work.


  • The mom pays. She knew there were breakable things. She should have supervised the child better.
  • The museum pays. You go into a public building expecting objects are secure. The museum knew children would be coming.
  • The artist pays. He loaned the statue and knew there was a possibility of damage.
  • The city pays. They own the building.

And there could be more issues. Say the mother alleges she is being held up to public ridicule because the artist is talking to the media. Perhaps the city invokes its privilege of being immune from lawsuits. And this is very likely, the museum says they must pursue every legal avenue to get the money or their insurance company will not pay.

What would you decide? At this point all you have is a bunch of broken glass and a lot of angry people. Welcome to an average day in the law.

Remember to join us on NBC 15 LawCall here in Mobile every Sunday night at 10:30 right after the news. We will take your calls and answer your questions live.

If you get hurt, you can talk to us at the Law Firm of Eiland and Ritchie for free. We want to help you get back on your feet.

Allen Ritchie

Alabama personal injury lawyer