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VERIFY: NC parents can sue another parent if their child spreads COVID-19 and is not wearing a mask

Attorney Gary Mauney cities a 1982 North Carolina Supreme Court Case, Moore V. Crumpton, for the reasoning for parents being able to sue.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — With COVID-19 cases surging in both North Carolina and South Carolina, many parents have concerns about their children going to school without vaccinations, and in many places, masks. 

Gary Mauney, a Charlotte-based attorney, said parents can sue an unvaccinated teacher if their child gets COVID-19 from them. Since WCNC Charlotte ran that story, the VERIFY team has been getting a lot of questions from parents about their options if their child gets COVID-19 at school. 

RELATED: VERIFY: Yes, you can sue if your child gets sick from an unvaccinated teacher

THE QUESTION 

Can parents sue another parent if a child is not masked and spread COVID-19?

SOURCES

THE ANSWER

Yes, parents can sue another parent if their child gets someone sick and is negligent in not wearing a mask. 

WHAT WE FOUND

North Carolina school districts in our area are split on if they will require students to wear masks or make them optional this school year. 

In South Carolina, there is a law that states masks are not allowed to be mandatory. 

RELATED: 'Mandating masks is not the answer': McMaster urges vaccinations, opposes mask requirements

Attorney Gary Mauney cites a 1982 North Carolina Supreme Court Case, Moore V. Crumpton, for the reasoning for parents being able to sue.

"[According to ] the North Carolina Supreme Court, the issue is the analysis to a particular parent didn't provide reasonable care under all of the circumstances," Mauney said. "That is the question the jury would have to answer."

He said this all depends on if a parent and child were negligent and got another student sick. 

"If the standard from the CDC or the state is that the child should be wearing a mask, and if the child knew that and the parents knew that, and somehow they were encouraging the child to not do that anyway, regardless if the particular school has a mask requirement, they could still be held liable," Mauney said. 

As in all cases, Mauney said it depends on the evidence the jury would evaluate in order for this to hold up in court. 

"The case gets worse for the parents if they know or should have known that the child has symptoms as well and then goes to school and doesn't wear the mask," said Mauney. 

Of course, anyone can sue anyone over anything, but having enough evidence to hold up in court is a different story. Nevertheless, Mauney said that cases like these have been upheld in North Carolina courts since 1920, when the Supreme Court established the "reasonable care" standard.

RELATED: 110 school-aged kids test positive for COVID-19 in Gaston County

VERIFY is dedicated to helping the public distinguish between true and false information. The VERIFY team, with help from questions submitted by the audience, tracks the spread of stories or claims that need clarification or correction. Have something you want VERIFIED? Text us at 704-329-3600 or visit wcnc.com/verify.
 

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