“Penn State recently decreed that three student-led outdoor adventure groups—the hiking club, the cave exploration club, and the scuba club—would have to disband due to safety liability concerns, even though none of the long-running clubs had ever reported a problem.” In the case of hiking, a “key issue for administrators was that the Outing Club frequently visit locations with poor cell phone coverage.” [Lenore Skenazy and Robby Soave, Reason]
A child hurt herself falling on a playground in Dublin, Ireland, and this is what Mr. Justice Raymond Groarke of the Circuit Civil Court wrote:
She was engaged in a game of chase pure and simple and, while it is most regrettable that she became unbalanced and fell, this was simply an old fashioned accident and I fail to see any liability on the part of the school for that accident.
Lenore Skenazy comments:
Score one for those of us who understand that there is NO activity, even climbing out of bed, that is always 100% safe. So if we start outlawing activities that are generally, but not 100% completely safe, we will end up outlawing any movement whatsoever.
The judge also seems to realize that something is LOST even if a modicum of safety could be gained. Are kids really safer if they do NOT run around, use their bodies, burn calories, learn to play, deal with disappointment, organize their friends, and create something out of nothing — a game?
Nope. Kids need to play.
Reports The Independent: “The school did not seek an order for costs against the girl’s mother.”
“Parks where Oregonians pursue adventure sports—like East Portland’s Gateway Green—now have liability for visitors’ injuries. … Last March, the Oregon Supreme Court handed down a ruling that overturned a key premise of a 45-year-old law referred to as the Oregon Public Use of Lands Act.” [Nigel Jaquiss, Willamette Week]
“According to cheese-rolling historians, humans may have been chasing wheels of cheese down steep slopes since pagan times. Written accounts of cheese-rolling date back nearly 200 years.” But now lawyers are catching up with the hazardous pastime. The original Gloucester cheese-rolling festival in England was officially canceled in 2010 — an unofficial version continues — and now in British Columbia, Canada, a suit claims compensation for a child spectator said to have been knocked to the ground by the impact of a rolling cheese on the other side of a safety net. [CBC]
“A former 1960s bondage-film actress is waging legal combat with a toy
company for ownership of her husband’s mail-order aquatic-pet empire.” It’s a tale with just about everything: tiny floating brine shrimp, lawyers in combat, and tanks full of humbug. [Jack Hitt, New York Times Magazine]
Punkin Chunkin, a ballistic pumpkin-launching event, had developed into a beloved Delaware event until a 2013 accident where an ATV overturned on a farmer’s field, leading to an injury claim. “On Oct. 8…organizers pulled the plug for a second year, saying liability insurance for the event had proven unobtainable. Even supporters of Punkin Chunkin were left wondering: Is it over for good?” [Wilmington News-Journal, our coverage last year] More: Bob Dorigo Jones.
Big Mouse is apparently afraid of getting sued on charges of operating a gambling establishment. [Orlando Sentinel]
- Many states have liberalized rules on family homeschooling, now comes the backlash from proponents of tighter regulation [NY Times]
- Kansas Supreme Court decrees higher school spending, estimated taxpayer cost upwards of $500 million [Greg Weiner, Law and Liberty, Wichita Eagle; earlier] After all, judicially directed school munificence worked so well in nearby Kansas City, Missouri [via @David_Boaz]
- Scaring ourselves to death: the insanity of school active shooter drills [Radley Balko]
- University of Virginia’s resistance to assault hoax weaker than Duke’s, possibly because pressure on skeptics to shut up has intensified [KC Johnson/Stuart Taylor, Jr./Real Clear Politics] Hans Bader on curious provisions of feds’ settlement with Harvard [Examiner, earlier]
- “Oklahoma court declines to order [high school] football game replayed for blown call” [Paul Cassell, more]
- Ohio judge rules principals, superintendent open to being sued personally over school shooting [Insurance Journal]
- “Wow. How fun is this? A merry go round welded stationary. So kids don’t get hurt. Way to go, New York!” [Lenore Skenazy]
Sad on multiple levels [AP]:
[Omaha assistant city attorney Tom] Mumgaard said courts in Nebraska have decided cities must protect people, even if they make poor choices.
Most people realize that cities must restrict potentially dangerous activities to protect people and guard against costly lawsuits, said Kenneth Bond, a New York lawyer who represents local governments. In the past, people might have embraced a Wild West philosophy of individuals being solely responsible for their actions, but now they expect government to prevent dangers whenever possible.
I’d say there’s more than one kind of downhill toboggan momentum we might want to worry about. Commentary: Lenore Skenazy (“If we believe that ‘whenever possible’ = ‘imagining all possible dangers, no matter how remote, and actively preventing them all, all the time, even by drastic decrees,’ then we get a society that puts 100% safety above any other cause, including fairness, convenience, exercise, rationality — and delight”); Ira Stoll (“This is the sort of story that you’d think might build some political support for tort reform.”).
The ballistic pumpkin-launching event, featured on the Discovery Channel, and “held for years on a succession of rural Sussex County farm fields, was to have moved to the same grounds that host Firefly this year. After a volunteer filed a personal injury lawsuit in 2013 over an ATV accident at the 2011 Chunk, the farmer hosting it in Sussex County said he wouldn’t let it return to his property.” Organizers have now resigned themselves to skipping 2014, and hope to hold the event in Dover next year. [Wilmington News-Journal]