Fed Judge Rules for Dead Hiker After NPS Destroys Evidence

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Messages 1 - 17 of total 17 in this topic
Peter Haan

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, CA
Topic Author's Original Post - Jul 31, 2013 - 11:07pm PT
http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Judge-rules-in-favor-of-family-in-boy-s-park-death-4699252.php

I have been waiting to see what would happen here.
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Aug 1, 2013 - 12:15am PT
Darlene Koontz?



REALLY?
Fat Dad

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
Aug 1, 2013 - 12:21am PT
Yeah, destrouing evidence, particularly when everyone knows it existed and you need that same evidence to defend yourself, is not a good plan. Cases like this are sad. Repairs that everyone knows need to be made aren't, people get injured or killed, lots of money wasted and a family still left to grieve. All the more because it was avoidable.
jstan

climber
Aug 1, 2013 - 02:14am PT
Reportedly the scene of the accident and perhaps representative of the improvement that failed. After eighty years, the footing is just gone.
Credit: jstan

Some of Lassen's trails were improved by the CCC between 1929 and 1933. The difficulties encountered in building a five mile long trail in steep volcanic ash can be seen in the following picture. This picture taken from a four year trail building project begun in 2010.
Credit: jstan

Getting a footing that will last and resist erosion is very difficult. Even if you sink piles you will still have to import good road base materials to use as the back fill. It appears they are going to heavy rock with a high batter hoping it will hold for decades. Stone is being placed by helicopter.

It is possible a really permanent trail on Lassen just cannot be built. Certainly not directly up the ridge used for the existing trail. But people would just short cut anything more seriously switch backed.

This one is a bear.

There is another alternative. Not permit hiking, put in a tram, and charge everyone.
Wayno

Big Wall climber
Seattle, WA
Aug 1, 2013 - 02:36am PT
Yet another ugly embarrassing event in this, the Winter of our Civilization.

Edit--O.K. maybe just late Autumn.
Don Paul

Big Wall climber
Colombia, South America
Aug 1, 2013 - 09:52am PT
I think these kinds of lawsuits are an abuse of our legal system and always cringe when people win. And Im a plaintiff's lawyer, supposedly one of the bad guys. I would rather see these areas left natural than turned into safety zones. I hope the $9 million comes out of the NPS budget, but don't think that's actually how it works.
DanaB

climber
CT
Aug 1, 2013 - 10:00am PT
I think these kinds of lawsuits are an abuse of our legal system.

Would you explain why you feel this way? Not trying to start a dispute, I'm genuinely interested
Don Paul

Big Wall climber
Colombia, South America
Aug 1, 2013 - 10:09am PT
I don't think the NPS should be trying to make these natural areas safe. I'd say just defund them and let the parks revert back to wildlands.

* caveat: SAR team not included, obviously they are needed.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 1, 2013 - 10:11am PT
Don I think you haven't looked at the specifics of this situation.

This judgement is quite a bit more about how the authorities behaved rather than straightforward claims made to the court. Destroying or concealing evidence....amazing. Repeatedly ignoring an apparently lethal maintenance problem over fifteen years, again, amazing, especially with it finally resulting in death.

From the link: "The park's safety program mandated the closure of known dangers such as the retaining wall," Nunley wrote. "The safety program constituted a policy directing mandatory and specific actions that were admittedly not followed."

And this for fifteen years prior to the fatality. And further, hardly an "act of God" especially when import records were then "disappeared", as they say.

The difficulty of building securely in volcanic ash is quite aside from the point here. Had the Park not concealed or destroyed evidence, the judgement would have been quite a bit different, and we all know this. In general in neutral situations most suits brought against parks for liability etc fail under a number of doctrines. This suit however is different, as I say.
cuvvy

Sport climber
arkansas
Aug 1, 2013 - 11:21am PT
Lame

Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Aug 1, 2013 - 11:22am PT

Credit: Reilly
kaholatingtong

Trad climber
Nevada City
Aug 1, 2013 - 11:36am PT
interesting, and good points peter, but hopefully the final outcome will also only be related to such aspects.
Dave Kos

Social climber
Temecula
Aug 1, 2013 - 05:43pm PT
Child dies in tragic, and avoidable accident.

Parents sue, receive monetary compensation. (I'm not sure how that brings any comfort, but I'm not in a position to judge.)

But here's what I don't get:

A GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE DESTROYED EVIDENCE IN A FEDERAL COURT CASE.

AND THIS PERSON STILL HAS THEIR (well paid) GOVERNMENT JOB

Anyone involved in the destruction of this evidence should be doing time.

The complete lack of accountability from government employees is a very disturbing trend.

Get a government job, and f*#k up all day long. The taxpayer will cover the cost.

Heard about the guy who was never charged with a crime, but forgotten in a DEA prison cell for days?

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2012/05/uc-san-diego-student-dea-jail-outrage.html

Guess who lost their job over that one?





Fat Dad

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
Aug 1, 2013 - 05:58pm PT
I think these kinds of lawsuits are an abuse of our legal system and always cringe when people win. And Im a plaintiff's lawyer, supposedly one of the bad guys. I would rather see these areas left natural than turned into safety zones.
I am curious as to how, as a plaintiff's lawyer, you feel this way. (I'm a lawyer too but I don't do PI or consumer law). Is it because you are against trying to maintain areas to make them safe for John Q Public, or is there some other component? If it's the former, I don't see how you would view these as a abuse of our legal system, unless you see no duty to maintain. However, having built it and inviting the public, a party has voluntarily put themselves in that position. It's like building a suspension bridge over a chasm, letting it fall into an unsafe condition but then continue to let people use it without warning.

Let's face it, it appears to be the policy of the NPS to dumb down the wild to make it more accessible. Look at all the "improvements" made at Joshua Tree after it was upgraded to a park. You don't have to make it off limits. Just don't improve it and then post a warning at the bottom. There's a pretty broad assumption of risk doctrine in California for outdoor activities.
looking sketchy there...

Social climber
Latitute 33
Aug 1, 2013 - 06:43pm PT
^^^^

Fat Dad +1
couchmaster

climber
pdx
Aug 1, 2013 - 07:27pm PT
Don Paul said:
"I think these kinds of lawsuits are an abuse of our legal system."

"Would you explain why you feel this way? Not trying to start a dispute, I'm genuinely interested"

Cause the alternative is to close it off to access. Not just that but everything. Which is total bullsh#t. Life is suffering. Life is dangerous and in the end we all die. But we should have teh ability to go and freak freely, and confront our maker and hopefully survive, when ever we wish to challenge our selves.

My opinion. With their win, we all lose a little more of our freedom.
Fat Dad

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
Aug 2, 2013 - 04:15pm PT
I agree that it's easier for a land manager to restrict access than regulate it. That, unfortunately, has been the fall back position on many issues. However, Don was arguing that these cases abuse the system. They seem like valid cases to me. The fact that they adversely impact access is a different issue of whether they have any underlying merit.
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