Bubbles cost Duluth $125,000

Sometime between 5 and 6 in the Saturday morning of July 7, 2001, a prankster put gallons of Joy dish soap into Duluth’s Fountain of Wind, turning it into an eight-foot-high mass of bubbles. 57-year-old Kathy Kelly was attracted by the bubbles and decided to walk into it. And fell and cut her leg. As a diabetic, Kelly suffered from what first-year law students call Vosburg v. Putney syndrome, and incurred $43,000 of medical expenses from the cut, which turned gangrenous. So a St. Louis County jury awarded her $125,000 when it decided that Duluth taxpayers should compensate her for 70% of her injury because the city didn’t clean up the fountain quickly enough (on an early Saturday morning) or do enough to warn people not to walk into an eight-foot high mass of soap bubbles where they couldn’t see where they were walking. “People shouldn’t have to be on their guard when they are taking a step,” explained one juror, who dissented from the final decision because he wanted to hold taxpayers 90% responsible. The jury found Kelly 30% responsible, and apparently didn’t seek to apportion blame to the unknown prankster. But I suppose we can be thankful that no one sued the soap manufacturer. (Mark Stodghill, “Woman gets $125,000 in Duluth ‘bubble trial'”, Duluth News Tribune, Mar. 23; Mark Stodghill, “Woman sues city over soapy fall”, Duluth News Tribune, Mar. 12) (via Obscure Store).

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