Archive for Monday, July 24, 2006

Play grounded

Safety concerns limit activities in city parks

July 24, 2006


Playing in Lawrence's parks isn't as dangerous as it used to be. Or, some say, as much fun.

When the city shut off the water earlier this month to keep youngsters from climbing on the South Park fountain during City Band concerts, the fountain became the latest in a string of landmarks in city parks once used for play but ultimately deemed unsafe.

City leaders say concerns about safety and injury lawsuits are greater now than they were in decades past, when the city boasted a real fire truck, locomotive and jet airplane among its climbing attractions for kids.

Today, even see-saws are considered too risky.

"We don't want something that might be attractive for kids to be dangerous for them," interim City Manager David Corliss said. "Our first focus is on safety. Is there a potential cost to taxpayers? Absolutely. Do we want to be mindful of it? Absolutely. But the first thing we want to do is make sure they're safe and not have an attraction that's potentially going to cause harm."

The old steam locomotive in Watson Park, south of Sixth Street between Kentucky and Tennessee streets, is now enclosed by a fence. Safety concerns prompted the city to put up fencing to keep visitors from climbing on the train.

The old steam locomotive in Watson Park, south of Sixth Street between Kentucky and Tennessee streets, is now enclosed by a fence. Safety concerns prompted the city to put up fencing to keep visitors from climbing on the train.

Here's a brief history of the dangerous, disappearing landmarks in Lawrence parks:

l In 1963, the Olathe Naval Station donated a Navy jet that was placed in Centennial Park. A photo from the time shows children climbing all over it. But it lasted less than a decade before the parks department had it removed because of concerns including "jagged pieces of metal."

l A 1917 fire truck once served as a jungle gym in South Park, but it was removed in the mid-1990s when the city realized there were too many places where children could fall through it. No one had been seriously hurt, but city leaders said they didn't want to take any chances.

l People used to be free to climb the locomotive in Watson Park, but in the 1990s it was fenced off so that only the cab was accessible. Now, a sign warns people that if they climb onto the train, they'll be prosecuted for trespassing.

A few landmarks-turned-hazards actually were designed as play equipment. A multi-tiered, rocket-like structure in Broken Arrow Park was removed in June 1992 after the city labeled it unsafe. It was sold for $410 to two Lake Dabinawa residents who planned to give it to their grandchildren to enjoy.

Lawrence resident Anne Broz remembers playing on the Broken Arrow rocket as a child in the late 1970s.

"I can imagine it was probably the most dangerous piece of equipment. It was 1978. Nobody cared," she said. "In 1978, if I'd fallen and cracked my head open, my mom would have said, 'Well, that was stupid,' and taken me to the hospital. She wouldn't have thought about suing the city."

Fred DeVictor, the city's parks superintendent, said that in some cases, pieces are removed from parks just because they're obsolete and too expensive to maintain. He said there were accidents from time to time on these landmarks, but he didn't know of any major injuries that led to claims against the city.

A locomotive in Watson Park was the site of fun and exploration at in August 1983. Safety concerns caused the train to be fenced off in the 1990s so that only the cab was accessible. Now, a sign warns people that if they climb onto the train, they'll be prosecuted for trespassing.

A locomotive in Watson Park was the site of fun and exploration at in August 1983. Safety concerns caused the train to be fenced off in the 1990s so that only the cab was accessible. Now, a sign warns people that if they climb onto the train, they'll be prosecuted for trespassing.

So how big of a concern should lawsuits really be for the city? After all, Kansas law states governments are not liable for injuries in parks and playgrounds, unless the government is guilty of "gross and wanton negligence."

Lawrence resident Don Strole, a personal injury lawyer, said a lawsuit is a legitimate concern.

"If you know accidents can happen and have happened on, say, the spaceship or the train, and then you don't do anything, it could easily be considered gross negligence," he said.

Strole said he thinks it's true that people are more likely to sue these days - something he attributes mostly to a changing society.

"I think more than anything else, there's not closeness like there used to be. Now, people don't even know who their neighbors are," he said. "You don't have any hesitancy to sue somebody who you don't know."


planetwax 11 years, 7 months ago

This is a good example of how everyone loses when frivolous civil suits are concerned. I'm still sad about the train, and mad about the fountain. Grrrrr.

lunacydetector 11 years, 7 months ago

the jet had sharp and jagged strips of metal throughout the fuselage and the cockpit was ridiculous. there was always some kid getting cut up. there was sharp metal everywhere. the fire truck was difficult for kids to climb up on and everything was cast iron, but it was kinda cool -not too dangerous. the rocket ship - it wasn't like some kid would fall from the top all the way down because the manholes on each level were offset, but it did sway in the wind - that's what probably did that in. the train should have a safety net installed around the edges of the engine walkways so kids can play on it again without risk of falling.

now all the play equipment is made for older kids who never play on them. there needs to be some cool things younger kids (age 2-5 like my grandkids) can play on without the fear of seeing a young child fall off - too many open areas up high for a younger child to fall through and fall off.

Richard Heckler 11 years, 7 months ago

When driving in other cities they still have merry go rounds and metal slides etc etc. The fire truck certainly never seemed anymore dangerous than the new equipment. Parents need to stick close by.

Kathleen Christian 11 years, 7 months ago

If the city is so concerned about children hurting themselves at the park then they should put a rubberized ground cover under the playsets instead of hard, crappy chunks of wood. Also, kids are going to get hurt no matter how protective a parent is. It's a fact of life people get hurt and sometimes it's the only way we learn.

Solti 11 years, 7 months ago

lunacydetector, try Veterans park (across from Lawrence High). It has excellent equipment for ages 2-5.

useta 11 years, 7 months ago

Is the castle still up at Broken Arrow? I can' t remember...but I used to play on that as well. Just wondering

imagold 11 years, 7 months ago

How many kids become injured falling out of trees? Better get rid of them, too.

Brenda Brown 11 years, 7 months ago

What if a kid got hurt on a round about?

Dixie Jones 11 years, 7 months ago

people are way too sue happy,,, gawd i fell one time off the top of this HUGE slide on my head (serious) i was 2.. did my mom and dad sue?? no because they knew there were dangers in everything you do ,,, i so agree with gold whats next .... shame a few sue happy people ruin it for everyone ...... what about the pool theres a danger in slipping...OH NO close it ! ! ! ! my kids will be so disapointed the train is closed. we enjoyed talking to the homeless ppl who sometimes lived in there....

stbaker 11 years, 7 months ago

I take my kids to a number of parks all over town: Watson, Broken Arrow, Holcom, Centennial, South Park just to name our regulars. They are ages 2 and 4, and at each of these parks They are both able to play on the equipment. Do I have to supervise closely? Yes. Are there high places that they are able to climb upto? Yes. Are there items that I restrict them from being able to climb? For my 2 yr. old, Yes. Do I want them to acquire some self-preservation skills so that they can themselves make smart decisions in the future? Yes. Are there the occasional skinned knees, splinters, bumped heads, shed tears? Of course. A couple of the parents that we sometimes meet at the parks and I joke that it is useless to meet for our own benefit of adult interaction because we're too busy keeping tabs on the safety and where-abouts of our kids. I think that we are fortunate in Lawrence to have so many parks for children with as much play equipment as there is.

MomMeg 11 years, 7 months ago

I agree with Merrill -- Parents need to be closer!!! Taking your child to play at the park means that you as a parent are playing with them, standing close-by, supervising them. There are too many dangers in our world today much more scary than a fall from play equipment - for parents to not be aware at all times when out with their kids. How sad about the fountain and the train!!!

Ken Miller 11 years, 7 months ago

Kids are going to stumble, bumble, rumble and crumble regardless of what playground items are provided. How many times did many of us get knocked silly when we were 8 or 9 and playing football on a city park field? Sheesh. STOP BEING SO DAD-GUM LITIGIOUS!

lunacydetector 11 years, 7 months ago

gee, thanks stbaker about the self-preservation skills part for my 2 year old grandson - i'd rather their parents handle that part of the equation.....but it sure would be nice if there were parks where you wouldn't have to stand close by and just let them play....especially when almost all parks, veterans park excepted, are geared for older children who don't utilize the play equipment since i've never seen any older children playing on them. i guess only in a perfect world the person who made the playground equipment purchases for the city actually got it right....maybe next time, and until then, you can have your fun watching your childrens every move. ..with all the parks in this town, you'd think there would be more than one geared for the children who actually play there.

auturgy 11 years, 7 months ago

I miss the spaceship and the fire engine.

hcother 11 years, 7 months ago

this town is too much... hilarious really... whatever happened to allowing people to make their own decisions? So put up a sign that states the obvious: "steep steps, please be cautious." or "climbing on the engine is dangerous, use caution." Is it a city fear of lawsuits that drives this?

Confrontation 11 years, 7 months ago

Older kids don't use the park, because there are no gaming stations set up for them to have mindless entertainment. Set up a few Xbox games on the swings, and watch how many unintelligent child and adult zombies show up at the park.

Baille 11 years, 7 months ago

Oh please. Much ado about nothing. The recreation use exception to the Kansas Tort Claims Act is absolutely huge. There is no way - absent what amounts to nearly intentional harm - that the city could get a judgment against it for injuries in a park or playground. The bar is absolutely huge. Name one case where an individual successfully sued a municipality for injuries suffered in a park or playground. Our Supreme Court and legislature has made that practically impossible even in the face of unexcusable negligence.

Further, if it were a problem, the state could grant even broader immunity. It could even go so far as to allow our cities and towns to place loaded firearms in parks without adult supervision, and under principles of sovereign immunity no government body could be held liable. DO you all understand that? The state has to allow itself to be sued!

Of course, my exampleis ridiculous and wrong.

You people just fall for the dumbest stuff.

These places have been placed off limits not because of a well-founded fear of litigation because such a thing is nonsense. They have been placed off-limits because they are inherently and unjustifiably dangerous. I used to let my kids play in the fountain at South Park - until I looked at it. The water is unclean and at times hides used syringes, prophylactics, and other dangerous garbage.

City fears lawsuits? Not in parks or public recreational spaces.

Fatty_McButterpants 11 years, 7 months ago

"In 1978, if I'd fallen and cracked my head open, my mom would have said, 'Well, that was stupid,' and taken me to the hospital. She wouldn't have thought about suing the city."

-Yep, that's because people back then took responsibility for their own actions. Today, if someone falls in a construction site, they don't say, "Gee, I guess I should have noticed all the construction equipment and the giant friggin' hole in front of me. How stupid of me!" Instead, they say, "How dare the construction company put that hole in my path and not throw up a fence and a thousand warning signs around it to force me to go another way. I am going to sue them for negligence!"

Baille 11 years, 7 months ago

Nice story. Legally ridiculous. Any factual support to back it up?

Mark Pickerel 11 years, 7 months ago

With the obesity problems we are facing in the future, we need as many attractive playgrounds we can get. It's a worthy investment.

Kelly Powell 11 years, 7 months ago

i hate to sound like a geezer....BUT.... When I was a kid we would climb mountains of construction scrap.....nails ,jagged metal, name it.....If todays children are so retarded and uncoordinated maybe the parents should outfit them with those big rubber sumo suits......most of you have allready turned them into weaklings on the illness front by not allowing them to build up immunitys and now they must be protected from all physical harm.......Nice crop of veal you guys are raising.

alm77 11 years, 7 months ago

Baille. sometimes its not losing a case they are concerned about, its simply the cost of defending the city in such a case. Even if you win, you still lose a lot of money.

jennifermarti 11 years, 7 months ago

The obesity problem has to do with parents being too lazy to get kids outside in the first place and pull them away from mindless videogames and the television. Or maybe make them a good meal instead of taking them through the nearest drive thru for a burger and biggie fry! Is it so much to ask that parents take some responsibility for their own children; or is it the responsibility of the city and the school system or whomever else they can push it off on...

acg 11 years, 7 months ago

Yay for rednekbuddha for making some sense. I can't believe how whiny, fat and lazy the kids are today. Back when I was a kid, we'd ride our bikes down the biggest hill we could find, in a tank top, shorts and flip flops (maybe) and if we fell and cut ourselves up, we'd wash it off in the water hose and keep going. Nowadays, if a kid gets a scratch they need to take a pill and go lay down. It makes me furious. And the parents are the problems. My generation was raised in lead painted rooms, riding in the back of pick up trucks and we played outside all day long in the summer. There was no video games for 12 hours or 450 cable channels to choose from! So what happened to us? How did we raise an entire generation of loser, whiny, pasty, fat little pansies? Most of us weren't raised that way, and whereas we can recognize the mistakes our parents made and improve upon them, I think we've taken it to the extreme. Getting rid of playground equipment (merry-go-rounds? Shame Shame!!), teaching them to medicate every little issue and letting them sit on their fat asses and munch super value meals is going to come back and bite us all, very badly, in the future. Ya'll remember that the next time your little pansy whines at you to buy him that new Xbox game. Do what I did. Chuck that video game system in the trash (boy was the fam p*ssed at me) and tell them to go in the yard and play!!

jennifermarti 11 years, 7 months ago

I totally agree with both of you-let kids be kids.

Baille 11 years, 7 months ago

"Baille. sometimes its not losing a case they are concerned about, its simply the cost of defending the city in such a case. Even if you win, you still lose a lot of money."

Not really. Getting this kicked on SJ would be nothing. Seriously, there are very, very few cases filed dealing withs parks and recreational areas, and none to my knowledge have won. The exception has even been extended to cover grassy hillsides, parking lots, and contiguous spaces never intended for recreation. Pretty comprehensive.

And what kids are you geezers hanging out with? Enough with the "back in my day" crapola.

Todd 11 years, 7 months ago

Umm... aren't the "tough" kids of yesterday the parents/grandparents of today? Yep, I do believe it works like that. So if the kids today are wimpy then we know who's fault it.

I really have to laugh when old-timers say, "We didn't have X back in my day and look at me, I'm better for it" Well, stop and think about all the people that died from auto accidents for instance that weren't wearing seat belts (or a child safety seats). Of course, none of those folks are alive to talk about how tough they are.

Christine Pennewell Davis 11 years, 7 months ago

oh the good ole days don't you all wish they would just come back.

acg 11 years, 7 months ago

Well I guess since this is a public forum, if people want to wax nostalgic for the days when kids were allowed to play on teeter totters, we're pretty much allowed to. If you don't like it, tough s**t. See, back in the day, we used to tell people what was up, too. No political correct, we don't want to hurt anyone's precious feelings mamby pamby BS. I think I'm going to bring that back. That, and paisley. I miss paisley.

Confrontation 11 years, 7 months ago

I doubt that 50 years from now, some older adult will say, "I used to play the XBox all the time and it just really made me a better and more intelligent person. I became an expert on killing fake terrorists and beating fake football teams."

xenophonschild 11 years, 7 months ago

Our kindergarten teacher brought us, by bus, to Lawrence in 1955. I was only a tyke, but I remember the park, and I think the engine was already there.

In any event, it has been there all my adult life, and it's not the same that kids can't clamber over it as we did as children. Is this the limit of local ingenuity - putting up a fence? How about making necessary adjustments so the engine can remain as it has always been?

That engine is one thing in Lawrence that had better not change, at least not in my lifetime.

GardenMomma 11 years, 7 months ago

That's why there are no more merry-go-rounds any more too. I called Parks & Recreation looking for a park with a merry-go-round to let my daughter experience what fun I had as a kid on them. The only park that has one now is the park by the river in North Lawrence. And that one is the kind that has the animals you sit on instead of the platform with bars. Boring, but safe I guess. I haven't been to that park in a few years, maybe that merry-go-round is gone now too.

And the reason P&R gave me was that they removed all the merry-go-rounds because they are "dangerous."

mztrendy 11 years, 7 months ago

Gardenmomma, I'm not sure where you're from, but a lot of small town parks around Lawrence, Lecompton for instance, still has one. Not sure if its worth the travel, but just an FYI!

Baille 11 years, 7 months ago

"I find it ironic that the city has nanny-fied all these parks but is willing to assume the risk of having a skateboard park."

OMG! Ap-o-plexy. Must con-cen-trate.

There is no big risk with the skateboard park! The recreational use exception will not allow you to sue the state or municipality - regardless of whether one's assumes a risk or not.

Look: the state can't be sued. Period. Unless it surrenders some of it sovereign immunity. Which it has done with the Kansas Tort Claims Act. But it retained immunity for suits arising from the use of a public park or other recreation area. No. Risk. In. Having. A. Skateboard. Park.

Linda Endicott 11 years, 7 months ago

We didn't wear seatbelts in the car when I was a kid. I don't think our car even had seat belts. Sometimes, when riding around, one of us would crawl into the space behind the rear glass and lie down.

Were there more injuries and deaths then? Considering there was less population, I don't think so. Seems there are an awful lot of fatality accidents around here anymore. Maybe all that safety equipment makes them think they're invincible? Of course, back in the old days, cars were made out of pretty substantial stuff. You could hit a deer and you might only get a scratch on the paint.

Seat belts...well, they may save lives, but I've read about so many people who only survived an accident because they were thrown clear. Same with a car falling into water. I think more people drown in that type of accident now, because they're wearing their seat belt, can't get out, and most people don't know about seat belt cutters and that anyone can buy one.

I got lots of cuts and bruises and skinned knees when I was a kid. Not all on playground equipment. Sometimes it was just because I was running and tripped on the sidewalk. But my mom didn't think about suing the city because I fell on an uneven sidewalk. And none of those cuts or bruises or skinned knees were fatal or debilitating.

We used to have a track meet every year at our grade school, and every year kids would get overheated, eat too much or drink too much, and invariably went out on the playground and barfed. Nowadays, they'd probably have to call in Hazmat. Back then, all we did was walk around it and go on.

My brother and his friend used to like to go to a nearby gas station and jump over the grease pit. Probably not too smart, but they never fell in, never got hurt, and neither did any of the other kids who tried it.

There is the possibility of injury with anything in life. But you don't see anyone banning sidewalks, or cars, or toasters, or bikes, or any of the other myriad of things that can be harmful. You can't protect children from everything, and I don't even think you should try.

Baille 11 years, 7 months ago

In Kansas? I don't think so. This is state law. We are talking about, and as far as I know Westlaw trumps Google.

I assume they took down the castle because it was unsafe. Not out of fear of a potential lawsuit. I assume that is why playgrounds are so strictly regulated and we have seen changes in equipment.

The skateboard park on the other hand is not unreasonably dangerous - anymore than an inherently dangerous sport is by necessity - and the law recognizes that fact.

Now does the recreational use exception protect the manufacturers of playground equipment or has the possibility of lawsuits worked to make them safer? Does it protect the users of recreational spaces or only the state? Do we line the playgrounds with soft, cuchy material to protect our kids from unnecessary injury or did we have tobe sued to do that?

Let's see how Google handles those questions.

Geeze, people. We used to play around grain bins and chase badgers. We built forts in private dumps and had BB gun fights. We didn't wear seatbelts in the car and every adult I knew smoked. So what?

Suing for uneven sidewalks? There has been a slight defect rule in Kansas which says that the owners (the state and private individuals) of uneven sidewalks can't be sued for injuries. This has been teh law since 1935. Why? Because one of your parents tried to sue for injuries sustained when they tripped on an uneven sidewalk. But you can't. not in Kansas.

C'mon. This rampant fear-mongering of lawsuits not only shows the general public's complete and utter ignorance of our legal system, but it leads us to make bad, knee-jerk decisions about matters of which we have little understanding.

neopolss 11 years, 7 months ago

Wow. This seems like an easy fix. Place a sign on every park.

"By enetering this park, the participant agrees that the city is not liable for injury."

I would think those who tried to sue would be laughed from court. Then bring back all of the merry-go-rounds and see-saws. I miss 'em badly.

In fact, perhaps we should create a privately funded park, with signs, with "dangerous" attractions for this generation to experience.

Staci Dark Simpson 11 years, 7 months ago

I miss good ol broken arrow park. It is pretty lame now. Spent many hours in the rocket and castle! I didn't know Lawrence was removing merry go rounds! How lame! Kids will be kids. Look how many accidents happen in our home, at least let kids have a little fun. Heck my cousin fell off the old slide in Lecompton and broke his arm many years ago and his parents still let him go down it. It has to do with common sense. People can get hurt falling down stairs who cares about a playground as long as you supervise your kids. Heck I have more trouble at the park with other kids picking on my son, finally after watching parents do nothing I told him to hit them back as hard as he could. If they hit him first its open season! I digress....

reginafliangie 11 years, 7 months ago

Gardenmomma: there is an old fashioned merry go round at the park in Eudora at the park at the corner of 12th/Cedar, with the bars and everything.

reginafliangie 11 years, 7 months ago

Loved Broken Arrow Park, went there all the time! That wavy slide coming down from the rocket made you bounce 3 feet in the air and then you would actually crash after landing at the bottom. But it was fun! They also had a little black space ship there, I don't know if that is still there or not.

audvisartist 11 years, 7 months ago

Those blades of grass are killer! Better mow!

Confrontation 11 years, 7 months ago

neopolss: If signs were posted at the parks, then this would be an act of discrimination against those who can't read! Are we only trying to protect the children of those who can read?! Gosh!! We would also have to post the signs in every possible language. Afterall, someone who only speaks "idiot" could say that they couldn't understand the sign. I propose that we slap each parent before they enter the park. This would let them know that the powerful City of Lawrence isn't afraid to kick a$$ and take names.

Baille 11 years, 7 months ago

What are you trying to fix, neoplss?

southerngirl 11 years, 7 months ago

Wellsville's city park has swings, two teeter totters, a climber and a merry go round with the bars. Take county Road 1061 straight in to the stop sign at Main Street, make a right, and then left on to 4th street. Takes about 30 minutes to get there. The swimming pool is located in the park and has a great baby pool. Jand D Pharmacy at 4th and Main Street has an old fashioned soda fountain that is fun and Smokeys on Main between 3rd and 4th has great BBQ. Make a day of it.

I agree with earlier posts. As a society we need to accept that sometimes bad things happen and quit looking for someone else to blame. I, too, took some nasty spills as a kid and took each spill as a lesson learned and moved on. My parents never would have even thought about suing someone for my accidents. d

Christine Pennewell Davis 11 years, 7 months ago

really my kids would never been able to play if I would have sued every time they got hurt would have banned from every park and back yard, crap happens if people would just accept that fact the world would be better off.

Jay_Z 11 years, 7 months ago

Macon, sad thing is you are right. Some people are worried about everything, including blades of grass. Remember the articles in the LJW about the push by some in Lawrence for chemical free city parks?!

KSChick1 11 years, 7 months ago

I rode my bike into a parked car once, took a header over the hood, picked myself up, wiped the blood off my chin (and spit some out) and then got back on the bike and rode home to get a popsicle

ahhhh good times

(just last week)

just kidding, it was when I was like 12. You know, in the olden days.

Jersey_Girl 11 years, 7 months ago

One word - countersue. Sue the parents for being negligent in their parental duties and sic Child Protective Services on their bu++s. If they were better parents, their little angels wouldn't have gotten hurt. I played on the train and the fire engine and the rocket ship as a kid, even when I was a teenager. I swiped some champaigne from a party my mom was throwing when I was 16 and drank it the top of the rocket ship with some friends, but that's another story for another day. Why don't parents just bubblewrap their kids until they're 21? That could prevent all sorts of problems, even teen pregnancy!

Baille 11 years, 7 months ago

Do you people never tire of complaining about a fictional problem? A figment of societal paranoia? As you all so cavalierly discuss the imaginary consequences of some unsourced imaginary law does no one stop to wonder what the law really is?

Jersey_Girl 11 years, 7 months ago

Pray, do tell us simpletons, Baille. What IS the law? And which law are you babbling about?

Staci Dark Simpson 11 years, 7 months ago

KSChick- I ran into a parked car too. I feel better now. I felt stupid because I was the only kid in the 'hood who ever hit a parked car. I didn't fall off though my bike tire got stuck under the bumper and I couldn't get the tire out. Embarrassing!! Oh yeah how many of us have jumped out of swings and crash landed? Next swings will be banned!!

dizzy_from_your_spin 11 years, 7 months ago

Speaking of fictional problems and figments of societal paranoia and imaginary consequences, did you see Gore's movie?

Jersey_Girl 11 years, 7 months ago

Sheesh, no kidding!! Why aren't children required to wear helmets at any and all playgrounds? And those evil metal slides that heat up in the hot Kansas sun and can burn your little shorts right off your tushy! We must convert them all to plastic, so they don't get hot and they aren't fast or fun in any way, shape or fun! Swings should all be made like the baby swings, so there isn't even the possibility of someone jumping off. And the animals on springs that kids sit on and rock back and forth! Someone could hit their head and get a concussion or poke an eye out! But wait a minute; do kids even play outside anymore? Most of the kids I know spend all their time indoors watching tv or playing video/computer games. WEG Yes, let's push the tv and video games; no one will ever get hurt on a playground again (or know the joy of getting your swing higher than your annoying little sister or the freedom of flying off a swing or doing a butt/faceplant after gliding down a slick metal slide). Yes, that sounds perfect!

Jersey_Girl 11 years, 7 months ago

Woo hoo! Does that mean I can come over and use the slide to cook an egg when it heats up again?

Jersey_Girl 11 years, 7 months ago

Oh, man!!! Now you've got me all nostalgic for my childhood! Playing in the rain, splashing deliberately in puddles, having my dad build a special, super-cool skateboard (about 1/2 the side of the ones kids use now).

Baille 11 years, 7 months ago

"Pray, do tell us simpletons, Baille. What IS the law? And which law are you babbling about?"

What? You want me to go back and read you the prior posts? The recreational use exception of the Kansas Tort Claims Acts grants immunity for harms caused on or near recreational areas such as parks and playgrounds. You can't sue the city for kids getting hurt on teeter-totters, slides, monkey bars, or other recreational facilities.

So tell me, JerseyGirl, why blather on and on about non-issues? Why cry wolf when there is no danger? Why succumb to the lure of the uninformed fearmongers when all you had to do was begin reading the comments from the beginning?

Jersey_Girl 11 years, 7 months ago

My, my, aren't we in a snit, Baille! I thought you might actually have a different law in mind. I read all the posts, including the one granting the city immunity from being sued. That doesn't mean someone won't attempt to sue the city. Ever sign a waiver that you won't sue if you get hurt doing something or do something even though it is posted to do so "at your own risk"? Probably not. You're too uptight to even understand sarcasm. But I bet that if you did either of those things and preceded to get injured seriously, you'd sue. People who skydive and bungy-jump sign waivers and if they die, you don't think their families say, "Oh, gosh! He signed a waiver that no one would sue! Well, I guess there goes THAT easy mill!"

Jersey_Girl 11 years, 7 months ago

And we all know that no one ever wins ridiculous lawsuits, now, don't we? McDonald's coffee, anyone?

badger 11 years, 7 months ago

You know who I blame?

That's right, the Board of Education. They took away evolution, and now folks can't have Darwin-approved toys to weed out the boys and girls who can't tell jagged exposed metal from rock candy.

It'll all end in tears, I tell you people that.

Hey, sorry I haven't been around. Texas is busy. And hot. And busy. And there's hiking. I was in Kansas, but unless you were at the Heartland Pagan Festival, it's likely you missed me. If you were there, I was the one walking around with bags of ice balanced on my head.

S'crazy here, y'all. We got yes-dogs no-smoking ordinances in our restaurants, can't swing a dead Longhorn without hittin' an aspiring musician, and the homeless woman on the corner outside my workplace has been holding a sign for almost a year that says, "Hungry, Homeless, Pregnant." I keep wanting to stop and ask her how come she never gets any closer to giving birth, and if the father is an elephant. There are raccoons on my back porch that have learned to taunt the cat, and the dumbest cardinals I've ever seen (no, really, I watched one go from pecking at the abundant seed on the ground to trying to eat a table leg) fight with the bluejay that eats paint chips for bird feeder dominance.

I'm in and out a lot these days, as there's lots to do here. Hope you're all well and crazy as usual.

Linda Endicott 11 years, 7 months ago

Gotta be careful of those raccoons, Badger...they'll try to drown the other little buggers, if there's any water nearby...

Baille 11 years, 7 months ago

Look Jerseygirl. Sure you could sue the city. You can sue for anything, but it would be a collosal waste of your money and the city will barely even feel the ding. SJ in 10 seconds flat.

Again, name one case where a citizen has brought a successful lawsuit against the state, a municipality, a user, or any other recognized body for harms inflicted in a recreational area. One case. One freakin' case.

The sovereign immunity issue is much, much different than assumption of the risk or voluntary waiver. But if you want to get into nuance, toss out enough facts and let's get to it.

Easy mill? See, it is commenst like that that reveal ignorance about the system. Even an easy case requires several thousand dollars to prosecute. A more difficult case can get to 20k in no time. These cases take considerable investment that most victims of negligence do not have; therefore, attorneys must invest in them. Why invest in loser cases? Aiming for bankruptcy?

As for the McDonald's suits (there were over 200 incidents related to McDonald's choice in saving a few cents per cup while absolutely knowing that they would cause severe and irreversible damage to one of their patrons), your comments show that you know nothing of teh actually facts of the case. Certainly, there are frivolous lawsuits. That was not one of them. In the end, that poor lady got her medical bills paid and McDonald's write it off as a cost of saving millions a few pennies at a time.

Baille 11 years, 7 months ago

Clarification: user would necessarily equal state actor or employee. Sovereign immunity only extends to the sovereign.

Linda Endicott 11 years, 7 months ago

You know, since someone brought up the McDonald's coffee thing, I've never understood that. At the time, I bought coffee there from time to time. The cups said, "hot". Was she dyslexic and didn't know what that meant?

Besides, anyone who has ever bought a drink of any kind from a fast food place knows that those plastic lids they put on the drinks are notorious for popping off again. Anyone who would hold a cup of hot coffee in their lap is an idiot.

Next thing you know, some idiot will sue Dairy Queen for brain freeze.

Baille 11 years, 7 months ago

Which is partially why her judgment was reduced - for her comparative fault.

McDonald's had over 200 incidents of its lids popping off unexpectedly under normal and expected use. This was brought to the attention of its management who made the decision that the liability it faced for compensating people harmed by this design flaw was offset by the savings it would make by not the cups it used.

In other words, McDonald's knew its cups would malfunction and burn people, but stood to save money even after paying for the harms caused to the victims.

In addition, McDonald's had its coffee set to a very high setting. "Hot" if you will. Because coffee tastes better longer if it is served slightly over warm. No big issue there.

The suit everyone talks about involved a lady who grabbed her coffee and moved to set it down. The lid popped off suddenly and unexpectedly and the lady suffered third degrees burns on her labia and upper thigh. McDonald's fought the high costs of her medical care, and because she was forced to sue her attorneys went after punitive damages and legal fees. (I think. been awhile since I looked at this one.) This was based in law: McDonald's committed what was for all intents and purposes akin to an intentional tort. It knew someone would be burned so that it could save pennies a cup, and yet continued to use the flawed cups.

The proper warning would not be that the coffee was hot. Duh. It would be that the lid is prone to popping off under normal and expected use. The proper solution would be to use the safer cup, which was readily available and being used by other companies.

McDonald's made a business decision and they lost. But then the award got reduced. The lady didn't get millions as awarded by teh jury - which by the way might have changed McDonald's corporate behavior. She got her medical bills plus a little. Thousands of dollars, but not hundreds of thousands, and I would wager she pocketed very little. McDonald's walked - except for the bad press.

You want to sue Dairy Queen for brain freeze? OK. If that brain freeze causes third degree burns to your genitals, and was a known and easily avoidable harm, and you did not substantially contribute to your own harm, then go for it. If you are lucky, the company that burned you may be made to take responsibility for at least part of your medical bills. Your disfigurement, inability to have satisfying intimate relationships, and lifelong pain that could have been so easily avoided is your own problem.

Whatever happened to the day when people took responsibility for the harm they caused? Oh that's right - they all became corporations and walked away.

Linda Endicott 11 years, 7 months ago

So if the lid pops off of my cup of Pepsi from McDonald's, and all the ice falls into my lap and causes frostbite, can I sue them?

EVERYONE who has ever been to a fast food place knows that those lids will pop off without warning under "normal and expected" use.

Okay, put a warning label on the cup that says that the lid might pop off during "normal and expected" use. Would that have stopped the injury? Probably not. But it would probably stop a lot of the lawsuits.

Granted, McDonald's should have paid the woman's medical bills without her having to go to court. It's just the right thing to do. And it's also good PR.

I seem to recall that at the time, the temp of McDonald's coffee wasn't any hotter than that of a lot of restaurants. If they had had coffee that was significantly lower in temp, then a lot of people would have been complaining about that. Go figure.

But at the same time, whatever happened to common sense, and people taking responsibility for their own actions? Does your car come with a warning label that says it could be dangerous and lead to dismemberment or death? No. Yet somehow, people seem to figure out that this could happen, even without a warning label.

Baille 11 years, 7 months ago

No, crazy. That is not true. I get coffee from all over the state - fast food, gas stations, downtown Lawrence. Coffee lids don't just pop off.

That was the crux of this case - there was a safer, more reliable product readily available for pennies more per cup. McDonald's chose to use the cheaper, flawed design. Now maybe if you or I were privy to the actual facts of teh case and not just the findings of fact made by the jury, we would come to a different decision.

But accepting those facts as true, the McDonald's case was a legitimate negligence/products liability case.

A warning label was not the solution. Choosing the safer cup for a reasonable increase in cost was the proper course of action. McDonald's gambled and lost. But then they won again and everything went away except for people's misperceptions. All people remember is the headline, and the media never followed the case all the way through resolution.

The problem with basing our opinion of the system justice system on News of the Weird is that our opinion comes out skewed toward the absurd.

And we end up on long drawn out conversations about impossible lawsuits, imaginary liability for municipalities, and pie-in-the-sky judgments that will never come to fruition.

Baille 11 years, 7 months ago

Oh and yes, crazy, you can sue them. You can sue anyone for pretty much anything - a little exaggeration but not much. The danger is that if you lose at trial you will have to pay for the costs of trial, and even if you don't go to trial you can be held liable for maliciously prosecuting a meritless claim. Want to pretend ice from your super-sized diet soda can cause frostbite? Fine. Sue 'em. Just be prepared to pony up the money for their legal fees.

badger 11 years, 7 months ago

crazyks -

If you have a loss of genital function from that frostbite, and they knew full well that the injury could result from their practices, then yes you should sue.

'Everyone know this' isn't a reasonable reaction. Not everyone knows that the coffee at McDonald's was hot enough to cause third degree burns. Third degree burns. That's some serious hot, and taking that serious hot and putting it in a device the company knew was likely to fail was corporate irresponsibility.

Companies shouldn't be held responsible when someone does something stupid with their products and gets hurt. OK, you used a chainsaw without the goggles specified on the box, and lost an eye to flying splinters. Do you see on the box where it says "Wear goggles?" (Out of the other eye, that is) That is your own fault because the company, who should know, said "This is how to use our product." If you dump your Dairy Queen ice cream in your pants because you 'like cold things' then that's your problem because putting it in your pants is not part of the expected normal usage of Dairy Queen ice cream.

However, say you're eating a Blizzard from that Dairy Queen, and the bottom of the cup falls out. You do get frostbite on your genitals from the ice cream, because Dairy Queen was keeping the ice cream at a temperature it knew could cause frostbite (perhaps because it preserves freshness). You find out that they bought extra-cheap cups, knowing the bottoms would fall out of (statistically speaking) one out of every thousand, but that the five cents a cup they saved would more than cover any lawsuits. Meanwhile, you've had to have some very intimate parts of your body debraded, and a couple of skin grafts, and you had to give up your job because you can't sit for more than ten minutes at a time. They built you in to the business plan. "We estimate 1.6 million dollars in lawsuits resulting from these decisions, but we'll save 4.2 million dollars over the next five years, so it's a sound business decision, especially if we can paint the lawsuits as frivolous and say they're suing us because they didn't know ice cream was cold."

Linda Endicott 11 years, 7 months ago

Do we have to have labels on everything because there are so many stupid people who can't figure things out for themselves?

And exactly how stupid would you have to be to just sit there with that frozen blizzard in your lap, even if it did fall through the bottom of the cup? Wouldn't you move? I sure would.

Baille 11 years, 7 months ago

And that's called comparative fault. If your fault rises above 50% in a case you can recover nothing from the other wrongdoer(s).

badger 11 years, 7 months ago

Crazyks -

No, I don't think we need constant idiot-proof labeling of everything.

However, if you could injure yourself in the course of normal, reasonable usage (like eating the Blizzard as opposed to shoving it in your pants, or getting splinters in your eyes from not wearing safety glasses as opposed to chainsawing yourself in the face to scratch a mosquito bite), and the company is aware of that possibility, then they should either change how they do something or warn the consumer that the danger exists.

The outside of the chainsaw box doesn't tell you not to chainsaw yourself in the face. Even if you've never used a chainsaw before, it's reasonable to assume that you wouldn't expect to use it to scratch mosquito bites. But if you've never used a chainsaw before, you might not realize it will kick off dust and splinters, so when a tree falls across your driveway and you're buying your chainsaw, the handy box (or the handy guy at the Home Depot) tells you to pick up some goggles too.

If there's a precaution someone should take while using an item as it was designed to be used, or if there are special precautions you need to take in normal situations, then there should be a warning label for that.

Example of a good warning label: My car has a label on the inside of the hood that says, "Fan may start without warning even when engine is off." I know, because of that label, to keep loose clothing away from the fan area even when I have the car keys in my pocket. I'm not stupid or irresponsible about engines, but I would have assumed that when the car is off and has no keys in it, it won't just turn the fan on without permission. Without that label, if the fan turned on it might seriously injure me because I wouldn't have taken precautions against it. It's a useful warning, because sometimes people who don't know a lot about how engines and their cooling systems work might be changing an air filter, checking the oil, or adding wiper fluid and need to know they should pull back neckties or long hair even if they turned off the engine and took the keys.

This doesn't, of course, explain why (according to Internet lore) the outside of a chainsaw box from Sweden says, "Do not use hands or genitals to stop chain." Nothing does, really.

Baille 11 years, 7 months ago

Balls of steel, baby. Balls of steel.

Jersey_Girl 11 years, 7 months ago

Baille - just didn't want you to think you scared me off. I would happily accept your challenge to "name one case where a citizen has brought a successful lawsuit against the state, a municipality, a user, or any other recognized body for harms inflicted in a recreational area. One case. One freakin' case", but I don't currently have access to WestLaw and I'm betting I could find one. Although that wasn't necessarily my point. I was simply saying what you said in a later post, that anyone can sue anyone for any reason. I don't think I said they would win, but if I did, feel free to correct me, as I'm sure you will.

BTW, good to see you do have a sense of humor.

Baille 11 years, 7 months ago

I will bet you a beer, Jerseygirl, that you will not find a case in Kansas where a plaintiff won a simple negligence suit against a municipality for injuries that occurred on a playground or other recreational area. If you don't have access to Westlaw, try Findlaw. I would search "recreational use exception" and "Kansas Tort Claims Act."

And Pilgrim, Fred Phelps has been disbarred for what - 20 years? Pull his case - it can be Googled. Anyway, you don't gain much by using News of the Weird to prove a standard. Look at the total number of tort cases filed and the disposition of each. These numbers are easily found and don't support your hypotheses.

Now let's move on to your little "judicial lottery" bunk. The vast majority of claims are business related - businesses suing businesses. Yet no one suggests that we abandon the legal system as a means to reach solutions for these disputes. But somehow tort claims are different as if victims of wrongdoing should shut up and take it and allow the ones who wronged them to walk. And no one ever complains about the tortfeasors whether reckless driver or corporation. Why not? If they would take responsibility, only frivolous lawsuits would be left, and then we could just dismiss them all.

People are under this impression that we have too many lawsuits and yet generally they know nothing of the actual facts of the case or the law upon which they are based.

The practice of law is not a lottery. It is a profession and increasingly a straight-forward business. Attorneys who seek justice for victims through the civil justice system, generally have to shoulder the risk of those cases themselves. The average victim can not afford to invest $15,000 - $50,000 in a lawsuit. Reputable attorneys and firms (in other words, ones that last more than a couple of years without getting suspended, disbarred, or claiming bankruptcy) don't invest that kind of money in frivolous lawsuits - because they would lose it. When they win, they get that back plus some, but that is the price we pay for requiring individuals to shoulder the risk rather than society. We could always have a program similar to work comp for road wrecks, medical malpractice, and other such claims - but we have not pursued that option. Why not? An understanding of the answer to that question would dispel a lot of the misperceptions and mischaracterizations so prevalent in these types of discussions.

Baille 11 years, 7 months ago

And a somewhat less than substantial response from you, Pilgrim. Your track record from Larryville is unspoiled by your participation in this discussion.

Baille 11 years, 7 months ago

It seems that is all you have. Your father must be proud.

Jersey_Girl 11 years, 7 months ago

Baille - I forfeit the bet. FindLaw is annoying me too much to try and navigate it any further. Tell me, are you a law student?

badger 11 years, 7 months ago

Baille -

Are they prosthetic balls of steel you paid for with the proceeds of your Dairy Queen frostbite lawsuit?

Baille 11 years, 7 months ago

"Are they prosthetic balls of steel ..."

Do you know of any other kind?

Linda Endicott 11 years, 7 months ago

If they're prosthetic balls of steel, you'd better have a warning label on them before you contemplate being intimate with someone. Wouldn't want to get sued for injuring someone, now.

badger 11 years, 7 months ago

You know, by the time someone's close enough for it to matter, I'd hope the topic might have come up in conversation?

I mean, if your partner hasn't noticed that you 'click' when you walk...

eskimopieinKS 11 years, 7 months ago

how many lawyers does it take to roof a house?

depends on how thin you slice them...

chiefdist2 11 years, 7 months ago

There is an old joke....what do you call a plane crash with 250 lawyers on board? Apologies to the quality lawyers out there who have a sense of responsibility and ethics!

Baille 11 years, 7 months ago

Oh please. Lame, lame, lame.

Two tigers were walking through the jungle when all of a sudden the first tiger noticed the second was missing. A short while later, the second tiger appeared and without so much as a "thank you" walked up to the first and started licking the first one under the tail. The first tiger spun around attempting to protect his pooper from further assault.

"What the...What are you doing?" spluttered the first tiger.

"Hey, man. I'm sorry," said the second, "but I just ate a personal injury attorney back there and I was trying to get the taste out of my mouth."

chiefdist2 11 years, 7 months ago

Does the licking tiger, like many of the 250 lawyers, suffer from a bad case of twisted logic? Maybe the victim of that tigers ass-ult should have put a lable there!

Linda Endicott 11 years, 7 months ago

Maybe they should make all the lawyers wear a label: "warning...will be detrimental to your bank account."

Baille 11 years, 7 months ago

Detrimental how? By making the people that owe you money pay you? Seems to me you are money ahead even after the fee - unless you want to prosecute the claim yourself. Good luck! :)

Jersey_Girl 11 years, 7 months ago

Baille - don't most lawyers take cases on a contingency basis for civil cases? Meaning they don't get paid if their client doesn't get paid?

badger 11 years, 7 months ago


Should be, "May be detrimental to your bank account." After all, for everyone who employs a lawyer to make someone else pay up, there's a someone else paying up, no? So, for half the people who get involved with a situation involving a lawyer (when the lawyer is being used for its intended purpose) there is likely to be a net loss of funding. I think that merits a label.

However, personal-injury lawyers who advertise on late-night TV merit warning labels that say, "Warning: this man is wearing a cheap toupee, pleather(bob) shoes, and a suit made from low-grade polyester. He is highly flammable and may give off harmful fumes if ignited."

Baille 11 years, 7 months ago

Yes, Jerseygirl. Most personal injury lawyers including medical malpractice, legal malpractice, car wrecks, and so on charge a contingency fee, which is a percentage of the judgment or settlment after expenses have been paid. This is mainly because their clients can't afford to shoulder the risk of litigation (typically $15k-$50k depending on the case, but it can go much higher) and can't afford to pay an hourly rate. There are exceptions, but that is the general model. When you think about it this approach is a win-win for society as a whole - we make the tortfeasor pay and yet allocate risk among a pool of people based on the tortfeasor's insurance. In other words, we enforce civil justice without the mechanism and large investment of the criminal justice system by letting private citizens take on the job.

And I agree with you, Badger. It kills me to see people who are supposed to be so good at persuasive speaking blow so bad on the TV commercials. Wish I had a solution for that one...

Baille 11 years, 7 months ago

What do lawyers and sperm have in common?

Only one in two million actually do anything worthwhile.

Jersey_Girl 11 years, 7 months ago

LOL!!! Baille - you never answered my question. Are you a law student?

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