A grandmother sued by her own family after falling down stairs while carrying her baby granddaughter has been found legally liable for the girl's head injuries.
Justice Robert Shallcross Hulme concluded that Reverend Hannellore Hoffmann failed to exercise reasonable care while carrying five-month-old Molly Erica Hoffmann Boland down the stairs.
In his judgment delivered in the NSW Supreme Court on Tuesday, the judge said he was unpersuaded that parents, and other close relatives, "have no legal duty to exercise reasonable care when they undertake physical actions involving their children".
Molly was seriously injured on January 25, 2006, when her maternal grandmother fell down the stairs while carrying her at a holiday cottage in Smiths Lake, near Forster, on the NSW mid-north coast.
The infant was holidaying with her grandmother, her parents and other family members.
Her father, Jason Boland, sued his mother-in-law on her behalf.
Rev Hoffmann then cross-claimed against the holiday home owner, a building designer and others involved in the design and construction of the stairs.
But Justice Hulme dismissed the claims against everyone, except the grandmother whom he found primarily responsible for the girl's injury.
"The law has hesitated to complicate the parent/child relationships in a domestic setting with the law of negligence," he said.
He noted Rev Hoffmann's lawyer could only refer him to one case where liability had been held to arise on facts comparable to this case.
He found the lack of reasonable care included "where Reverend Hoffmann walked and the absence of reasonable illumination".
The court heard Rev Hoffmann fell at about 5.30am - she'd offered to take Molly downstairs when the baby did not go back to sleep after her mother fed her.
The grandmother asked her daughter to leave her bedside light on until she reached downstairs.
Justice Hulme's judgment was only on liability and the issue of damages was not canvassed