Apr 12, 2013 at 3:03 pm #1301641
An Idaho family has sued the U.S. Forest Service demanding more than $1 million after a large dead tree at a remote campsite fell and injured their young son.
Richard and Melinda Armstrong, of Caldwell, said their family was camping in the Boise National Forest in September 2010 when a gust of wind blew over the dead tree. It fell on their son, resulting in a large laceration, a compound fracture and a puncture wound in his back that impaired his breathing.
The boy, who was 6 at the time, was taken by helicopter to a hospital in Boise.
The couple said the Forest Service was negligent because it didn't remove the tree, which was a hazard. They're suing for more than $1 million in damages and emotional stress in federal court.
more at linkApr 12, 2013 at 3:16 pm #1975935
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
sigh :(Apr 12, 2013 at 3:17 pm #1975936
@t-lLocale: WisconsinApr 12, 2013 at 3:35 pm #1975943
Chances of winning – next to zero.
I present to you a couple of recent lawsuits – one involving the collapse of ice caves that killed a young girl in Washington state and the other involving a hiker killed by a goat at Olympic National Park.
Both are tragic stories involving profound loss. In both cases, the lawsuits were dismissed.Apr 12, 2013 at 4:01 pm #1975949
"Both are tragic stories involving profound loss. In both cases, the lawsuits were dismissed."
That's what rarely makes the news, unfortunately. Many, many cases are dismissed, and many more lost by such people. That they try to sue for some ridiculous sum is what always makes the news, and too often drives 'discussions' about lawsuits and such.Apr 12, 2013 at 4:38 pm #1975961
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
How come it is always Eric that brings us this weird news?
–B.G.–Apr 12, 2013 at 4:41 pm #1975964
@bestbuilderLocale: Pacific Northwest
Eric is directly wired for the weird and odd news story. Probably WiFi.
How do you find this stuff?Apr 12, 2013 at 4:45 pm #1975967
Ben 2 WorldParticipant
@ben2worldLocale: So Cal
Idahoan? Wonder if this family espouses small government and individual freedom? Now, of course, it is the government that needs to step up — as always…Apr 12, 2013 at 4:46 pm #1975968
This tree fell on us at about 2AM on USFS land. I cannot believe that trail crews don't monitor tree conditions. This tree obviously should have been removed long agao.
It put some holes in my ShangriLa 3 and scared the kids and I pretty good. We had to get up and move camp in the night.
While nobody was physically injured, the emotional scars run deep. Every time I hear wind in the trees I get panic attacks. My children have terrible recurring nightmares.
I figure shelter replacement and compensation for psychological damages for the three of us should amount to at least $250,000.
Any attorneys on BPL wanna take on a pro bono case?Apr 12, 2013 at 5:02 pm #1975974
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
"Any attorneys on BPL wanna take on a pro bono case?"
Interesting that you mentioned Sonny. He died skiing when he ran into a tree. The family didn't sue. His wife said drug abuse was the cause.
"And The Beat Goes On"Apr 12, 2013 at 5:13 pm #1975982
Actually I don't have a JD so that might be a problem.
If an established campground is ignoring an obviously diseased tree which is leaning towards established camp sites… there may be an argument for negligence.
I used to drink the tort reform kool aid but after seeing my friends wife become a vegetable due to a drugged anesthesiologist and almost losing my mom (no palpable pulse or BP/week in ICU) to another physicians negligence, I now see shades of gray when it comes to civil liability (not promoting it/just saying I understand.) The only problems is in this case, it is the tax payer who is getting sued.
Hopefully the poor kid will recover well.Apr 12, 2013 at 5:24 pm #1975984
@cameronLocale: The WOODS
In my opinion good torte reform would keep stupid cases like this out of the courts and free them up to deal with real cases (of which there are plenty). Maybe making losers pay legal fees for really outrageous claims would help.
When I helped with summer camps our biggest headaches were health inspectors and potential liability. There were a lot of fun activities that we didn't do just because we could have gotten sued.Apr 12, 2013 at 5:45 pm #1975992
@ouzelLocale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Any animal rights lawyers out there willing to take this one on?Apr 12, 2013 at 6:05 pm #1975997
…Apr 12, 2013 at 6:18 pm #1975999
@woodenwizardLocale: Greater Mt Tabor
I hate people.Apr 12, 2013 at 6:34 pm #1976009
…Apr 12, 2013 at 6:41 pm #1976013
ABove is the legal story.
Below is the actual story.
My son and his friend (both 11) were in the tent with me.
The bozos slept through the whole thing. I woke to the sound of the tree snapping and falling and hitting the tent, then woke the kids to see if they were OK. It was close; I suppose that if the tree fell a bit closer to us that someone would've been hit with the weight of the trunk and not the thinner top branches.
They were everywhere. Between floods and fires, there are a TON of dead trees in the canyon we camped in. I know the area well and it's pretty hard to camp without being around dead trees. What I did not expect was the 50+MPH gusts that kicked up after midnight. The entire day was calm, not even breezy, no hint of a windstorm coming.
The kids actually thought it was an adventure and had fun breaking camp and hiking in a windstorm in the middle of the night. They're hardly traumatized…now my son and his friend brag about it.
Granted, it could've been worse, but I don't do anything different or take any big lessons from this. We could've camped somewhere else without dead trees and been killed by a falling rock instead. It was just one of those things.
I just blew my case, didn't I?Apr 12, 2013 at 7:03 pm #1976022
I'm all for tort reform–I say this as an attorney–because the system is out of whack.
On the other hand, I'm even more strongly in favor of torte reform. In my opinion, the best torte reform would be to replicate the chocolate Sachertorte, which can still be had at the Sacher Hotel in Vienna.Apr 12, 2013 at 7:13 pm #1976025
@hikinggrannyLocale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
You have me drooling! I spent 5 days in Vienna in the summer of 2001 and basically lived on the stuff, with an occasional foray into other kinds of torte. Not a very healthy diet, but cheaper than buying dinner (Vienna restaurants are expensive!). Breakfast (in the hostel) was a trifle healthier.
Back to our regularly scheduled programming:
Per the news article
the family was camped in a dispersed site, not in an established campground. They claim that because the dispersed site was well-used and close to a road, the Forest Service should have maintained it.
Isn't there something called "due diligence" here, in that the family should have had sense enough not to camp next to a dead tree?
My fear is that this sort of thing will make the USFS prohibit dispersed camping altogether!Apr 12, 2013 at 7:24 pm #1976032
One of the attnys I work with is also one of the best bakers I've ever met. After retirement, she's planning on opening a shop called "From Torts to Tarts."
Well Craig, seeing that you were assaulted and temporarily held hostage by this vile tree… well I know a Dr….. have you ever heard of Stockholm Syndrome?Apr 12, 2013 at 7:38 pm #1976039
Jeremy and AngelaParticipant
@requiemLocale: Northern California
In my opinion, the best torte reform would be to replicate the chocolate Sachertorte, which can still be had at the Sacher Hotel in Vienna.
A bit dry for my taste, even with the whipped cream, but its legal history is certainly apropos. The strudel, on the other hand….Apr 12, 2013 at 7:41 pm #1976041
As a personal injury lawyer strongly opposed to tort reform, I can tell you this does not sound like a case I would file. And it has won no money yet, before anyone gets too outraged. On the other hand, there was recently a case where a doctor amputated the wrong limb, leaving the patient with one bad limb and his good limb is now gone. Jury found against the patient. Press ignores it.Apr 12, 2013 at 7:41 pm #1976042
"Isn't there something called "due diligence" here, in that the family should not have had sense enough not to camp next to a dead tree?"
Absolutely. We have a federal campground near where I live which has a very large and very dead tree which is now leaning towards a few established campsites. Its arguable if it eventually falls on someone that the Corps of Engineers should have spent a couple bucks on gas and cut it down before it became a problem. I don't think it's safe and I wish they would show some initiative and avoid the issue all together.
On the other hand, dispersed/stealth/back 40 camping, the BLM/USDA/EIEIO can't be held responsible for every widow maker out there.
BRB off to the bakery!Apr 12, 2013 at 7:43 pm #1976044
@justin_bakerLocale: Santa Rosa, CA
Oh the horror of setting up in the dark in heavy wind and waking up at first daylight to a partially burned, partially rotten redwood tree big enough to flatten a house with a partially hollowed out base leaning right over where you slept.Apr 12, 2013 at 7:48 pm #1976047
@gregfLocale: Canadian Rockies
I cant tell from the link but is the insurance company suborogating the claim and suing on the families behalf or making the family sue? Private insurers generally have a suborogation clause.
One reason the US sees more law suits than say Canada or Austrailia is the lack of public health care. If you look at the Mcdonalds coffee case at the root of it was Mcdonalds refusal to pay for the health care costs of the women so she sued.
I dont want to derail this thread on the merits of public or private health care but one of the consequences is that when situations lie this occur insuance companies require law suits to recoop their costs
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