Posted by Wordsmith on 4 September, 2010 at 4:09 pm. 5 comments already!


While President Obama can’t seem to get the economy to swing into action….

Swings of a different kind are becoming relics of a past age- an age when one was allowed to play dodgeball and tag; an age when one was allowed to take risks in life and suffer the consequences and rewards that occur as a result of one’s own personal actions.

Because of the fear of lawsuits,

a West Virginia county is removing swing sets from elementary schools. A minor, local issue? No. America’s litigious society has changed the way kids play.

Roughly a year after a child broke his arm jumping off a swing like Superman and his parents are settling a lawsuit for $20,000, Cabell County, W.V., schools are yanking swing sets from school playgrounds. The lawsuit was one of two filed in the last year against Cabell County schools over swing set injuries, the West Virginia Record reported Thursday. School safety manager Tim Stewart, who is overseeing the removal, said he sees “a high potential when it comes to swings and lawsuits.”

What’s happening in Cabell County is not an isolated case. Local governments, fearful of lawsuits, have been for years closing pools, stripping playgrounds of equipment and banning outdoor games.

A Massachusetts elementary school has told students they can’t play tag. One Boston school forbids handstands while another in Needham, Mass., doesn’t allow students to hang upside down from the monkey bars. A pool in Hazleton, Pa., closed some years ago after a swimmer sued for $100,000 because he cut his foot running and jumping into the pool, though he’d been warned not to.

“There is nothing left in playgrounds that would attract the interest of a child over the age of four,” Philip K. Howard, lawyer and author, wrote in the Wall Street Journal in 2008.

“Exercise in schools is carefully programmed, when it exists at all. … Broward County, Fla., banned running at recess. .. . Little Leagues forbid sliding into base. Some towns ban sledding. High diving boards are history, and it’s only a matter of time before all diving boards disappear.”

Olga Jarrett, a Georgia State University professor who prepares students to teach, told the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform: “Many schools don’t have playgrounds at all, they don’t have recess. They’ve been built without playgrounds with the idea that this is not something we do at school.”

She blames “a fear of lawsuits that makes some school systems and cities design playgrounds that are completely uninteresting to kids.”

Howard, who wrote “The Death Of Common Sense” and “Life Without Lawyers,” has been warning the country for years that our fear of litigation is changing American culture.

I have a client whose family “owns” a popular shopping mall out in Orange County, CA. She once told me about how a little kid reached down to pick up a nickel in the mall and suffered a broken arm when he fell down. They settled out of court. Was the mall really at fault for the child’s own clumsiness? Or was it a matter of, “this is life and $**t happens”?

A couple of years ago, my old boss, a gymnastics club owner, received a notice from a former client that he was being sued over an accident that the client’s daughter suffered (a broken arm from a fall on bars) almost 10 years earlier (apparently her elbow didn’t fully heal the way it should have). I side with him over every reasonable precaution having been taken. We cared deeply about this child and nurtured her growth during the time we had her. It not only hurt to be sued by her parents a decade later, but turned my boss off to the very idea of teaching gymnastics anymore, after 30+ years in business.

Where is the balance between reasonable expectations of safety precautions and understanding that by the very nature of living life, there is the inherent risk factor that you may get hurt? That if anyone is to be held accountable, it’s your own self for the decisions you make. If blame and finger-pointing are to be handed out, begin with God for creating a world ruled by Murphy’s law and not insulated from things that can go wrong.

If trial lawyers could sue God, I’m sure they would take Him for every last penny in the universe… links to FreedomWorks and adds:

… America has become the most litigious nation in the world, by virtually any measure. According to the National Center for State Courts, 15 million civil cases are filed annually in the United States. The American civil justice system is the most expensive in the world, with costs running more than twice that of other industrialized nations. Yet despite the high costs of the system, it provides a poor return on the dollar—only 20 cents of each dollar goes to compensation for economic damages. …

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