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Common sense or negligence
Where do we draw the line?

by Brian Mercy, staff writer


An airliner was having engine trouble, and the pilot instructed the cabin crew to have the passengers take their seats and prepare for an emergency landing.

A few minutes later, the pilot asked the flight attendants if everyone was buckled in and ready.

Click on image for larger view

“All set back here, Captain,” came the reply, “except one lawyer who is still going around passing out business cards.”

I hope you got a chuckle out of that.

Lawyer jokes were not created to insult lawyers, but to reflect the occasional stupidity of the legal profession. Frivolous cases, inflated claims, and dishonesty are only a few stigmas attached to it.

In light of the recent court ruling against the state in the Sacred Falls case, the state is considering closing Manoa Falls, Haiku Stairs (aka “stairway to heaven”), and other parks that pose a high risk (to users). The case is setting a precedent that will fatten the pockets of ambulance-chasing lawyers, and rob the public of access to any outdoor activity.

It is getting out of hand. Don’t be surprised if one day you are not allowed to go to the beach because sunlight causes skin cancer and people drown in the ocean. Attorney Arthur Park, who is representing the plaintiffs in the Sacred Falls case, doesn’t think that the nine signs posted adequately warned park goers of the hazards of the park. He claimed that some of the signs were wordy, vague, or damaged.

So, people saw the signs, but did not heed the warnings. Why did they think the signs were there? Were they having so much fun that day that they underestimated the warnings? Or did the proceed despite them?

It’s hard to speculate what was going through their minds. It’s clear, though, that they saw the signs.

Let’s assume they didn’t. Would they be totally clueless that mother nature is unpredictable and dangerous? I doubt it. That’s like swimming in the ocean: swimmers know it’s possible that they can drown.

Park is actually asking that Sacred Falls remain open, “We’re not asking that the park be closed. We just think it should be opened only to experienced hikers, and children should not be allowed.”

But his logic is flawed. Even the most experienced hiker is unable to predict a landslide, so this would not prevent future accidents.

The state has decided to appeal the case, and Park dislikes that, “This is the same bad lawyering that got the state into this in the first place, and now it’s going to end up costing the state a lot of money.”

Contrarily, it could save the state money if the appellate court rules in its favor. It would also eliminate the silly Sacred Falls precedent.


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