Dependable Erection

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Personal responsibility

A month or so back, probably in the context of the wrap-up of the Duke lacrosse case, i chastised someone for inappropriately drawing conclusions about classes of people based on the actions of a single individual.

So given what i'm about to write, i'm going to have to be very careful not to find myself inhabiting a very uncomfortable precipice, having been hoisted there by my own petard.

I think this is the the kind of thing that people mean when they say that "lawyers are scumbags." And i'm almost certain that when people, especially right-wingers, lament the loss of personal responsibility in our culture, this is what they're talking about.
The father of Josh Hancock filed suit Thursday, claiming a restaurant provided drinks to the St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher even though he was intoxicated prior to the crash that killed him.

The suit, filed in St. Louis Circuit Court by Dean Hancock of Tupelo, Miss., does not specify damages. Mike Shannon's Restaurant, owned by the longtime Cardinals broadcaster who starred on three World Series teams in the 1960s, is a defendant in the case along with Shannon's daughter, Patricia Shannon Van Matre, the restaurant manager.

Other defendants include Eddie's Towing, the company whose flatbed tow truck was struck by Hancock's sport utility vehicle in the early hours of April 29; tow truck driver Jacob Edward Hargrove; and Justin Tolar, the driver whose stalled car on Interstate 64 was being assisted by Hargrove.

OK, i can get my head around trying to hold the restaurant responsible. I lived on Long Island in the 70s when the owners of a bar called the Little Brown Jug was sued by the family of someone killed by a drunk driver who had been served while inebriated. As i recall (and i can't find any documentation of this online) this was the first successful lawsuit against a tavern owner for failing to cut someone off who then went on to kill someone else. If Josh Hancock had taken anybody else with him that night, i'd expect their survivors and heirs to sue the restaurant as well.

But suing the tow truck operator? Suing the guy whose car stalled out in the middle of the highway?
Authorities said the 29-year pitcher had a blood content of nearly twice the legal limit for alcohol in his system when he crashed into the back of the tow truck. He was also speeding, using a cell phone and wasn't wearing a seat belt, Police Chief Joe Mokwa said after the accident. Marijuana also was found in the SUV.

You know, i feel bad for Dean Hancock. He just lost a son. But come on, what kind of way is that to respond to such a loss? What does that say about our society that such a lawsuit is going to be taken seriously?

UPDATE: Welcome to all you folks coming in from AOL Sports. Feel free to check out some of our other fine posts while you're in town. Especially this one, which will introduce you to Dependable Erection, or any of these, about our amazing, not be missed if you're anywhere within a hundred miles of Durham, NC, Third Annual Beaver Queen Pageant coming up on June 2nd. Hope to see you again soon.



  • What aggravates me is that such lawsuits add fuel to the fire of the argument that "trial lawyers" are, as a group, the scum of the earth, so that when someone like a John Edwards tries to parlay a career as a strong advocate for victims into a career in politics, the "trial lawyer" label is an albatross. It's similarly tragic when police officers are caught being corrupt or abusive, because a great number of those who are police officers are serving and protecting with honor.

    As for civil suits against bars for serving intoxicated patrons, I think those are almost always frivolous. If a community wants to hold bar-owners liable, they ought to make serving the intoxicated a criminal offense (they did this somewhere; it's stupid, but at least the line is clearly in the sand). I think drunk driving is as terrible of a problem as most people, but the solution is not to make those who run drinking establishments the moral guardians of their patrons.

    Geez, why didn't they sue the beverage distillers and distributors, too? What about suing the Cardinals themselves? They play in BUSCH Stadium...that's gotta put a lot of pressure on someone to drink...

    By Blogger toastie, at 5:59 PM  

  • Regarding the tow-truck, I do wonder if there are any laws stipulating what precautions are required during a towing prep/operation.

    It wouldn't shock me if there were some laws specifying what kinds of flares/markers/etc. ought be used. (I'm not saying whether or not there should be. I'm just saying I wouldn't be surprised if there were.)

    By Blogger Phil, at 7:29 PM  

  • i find it inconceivable that a tow truck operator would stop on the freeway at any time without at least turning his flashers on.

    should flares have been put out? probably. but is the failure to light flares within 5 minutes cause for a lawsuit?

    come on, the guy was drunk, speeding, and yakking on a cell phone. whose fault is the wreck?

    By Blogger Barry Ragin, at 8:31 PM  

  • I'm sorry this man lost his son. But he lost his son because HIS SON was irresponsible, They say he had a drink in his hand the entire time he was at the restaurant....He couldn't say no?? It was his responsibility to NOT get behind the wheel, NOONE made him drink and NOONE made him drive. And quite frankly if anyone should be suing, it is the people HE hit.

    By Anonymous Julie, at 11:47 PM  

  • I am sorry for the pain that this family feels, but a 29 year own man is responsible for his own actions and choices. A restarant should not be held liable for serving food and drinks--what can I sue a restarant for being fat???? It is time that we all own up to personal responsiblity.

    By Blogger holly, at 11:48 PM  

  • I think this dad should be very grateful his 29 year old, adult son, did not kill the tow truck operator along with himself..

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:57 PM  

  • Hey since they have gone nuts with the lawsuit...are they going to sue the police dept. for not having him behind bars so he wouldn't have gotten drunk due to the marijuana in his vehicle.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:00 AM  

  • The man was drunk, had marijuana in his car, was on his cell phone and did not have his seat belt on. Unfortunately, he alone was responsible for his own death and no one else. It is time this country stops all these frivilous lawsuits. It is costing everyone millions of dollars in extra insurance premious to cover this kind of suit brought by ambulance chasers.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:10 AM  

  • Instread of suing these folks if I was the father I would be apologizing to all parties involved in what my son caused due to his reckless behavior.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:12 AM  

  • This is ridiculous. I feel very badly for this man because of his terrible loss, but thank goodness others weren't killed or hurt. His son's negligence was the culprit, not the guy whose car stalled. And the typical ambulance chasing attorney pulls everyone he can into the case.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:12 AM  

  • The stages of death, well documented. Anger seems to be the issue here; who is going to compensate me? I pray we do not live through his loss as we are trained as parents to raise our children towards adulthood, not to bury them. As a paramedic, I have personally placed the ambulance in between traffic and victims, sacrifice the rig for the future of the patients (tow truck).
    Was the operator of the tow truck outside the scope of his practice? no, most any tow truck driver would protect who he is serving. Not moving the car off the road? With my surgical repaired back that is a non-possiblity. Millions of drivers on the road daily, with just a handfull percentage wise under the influence, and a large percentage of those are envolved in major injury accidents.
    Let us never forget his son, help those who survived the ordeal, and educate the bar owners.

    By Anonymous Ed, at 12:31 AM  

  • Dean Hancock ought to sue himself while he's at it. If he had raised his son Josh correctly they guy wouldn't have grown up to be an irresponsible drunk.

    By Anonymous Booshu, at 12:35 AM  

  • Thanks, everyone. It's nice to see that Americans still believe that a 29 year old who is drunk, distracted, and who has marijuana in his car MIGHT be responsible for getting himself killed. I hope the judge in this suit is just as sensible and dismisses this idiot lawsuit before more taxpayer dollars are wasted. Also, while condolences are due to the family and the fans, we should also be thankful that no innocents were killed due to the actions of an irresponsible individual. Nice to see that common sense is still common.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:50 AM  

  • How embarassing to the memory of Josh...what is the point...nothing will bring him back. Josh's own actions have already cast a negative light on all the admirable things he had done in his life. Now his own father has chosen to try to make other responsible for his son's death...his grieving father has now become pitiful. What happened to having class, character, and person responsibility. If Josh had read about this lawsuit when he was alive what would he have said?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:57 AM  

  • his dad sounds a little pissed that his meal ticket has been killed. now hes gonna have to get off his butt and go back to work. and the lawyer will make more on this suit than the family anyway.i have no sympathy for his dad at all, piss on him. hes just a jerk, kinda sounds like cindy shehan, disgracing the name of their son to make a buck. pretty sad.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:14 AM  

  • Seems a shame that only 15 of us have seen fit to agree about personal responsibility and post about it. These people are what is wrong with this country.

    By Anonymous smck0912, at 1:14 AM  

  • Reading this article I dont know whether to laugh or cry. Now if I am reading this and other associated articles coreectly a grown man went into a bar, took it upon himself to drink for three hours, get into a vehicle and drive, then get on a cell phone obviously not paying attention, and run into a tow truck that was helping a stranded motorist. At what point does the father believe his son had any wrong doing in this whole event. So here we have another frivoulus lawsuit just taking up more tax payers time and money because of somenes stupidity.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:59 AM  

  • I am a father of 2 (boy and girl) and I can't imagine the pain of losing a child, at any age. However, having said that, these are the kind of stories that make me want to grab the lawyer AND his client and throttle the hell out of them. You have a guy who's drunk, and more than likely stoned, who is speeding AND talking on his cell phone. Give me a break. There is no one to blame but Josh Hancock. Horrible loss, but perhaps some of the blame rests in dear old dad for not raising the kid correctly.

    By Anonymous Big Doug, at 3:50 AM  


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:54 AM  

  • Lets face it , this drunks dad is sueing because he lost his meal ticket, I feel no sorrow for him or his druken son.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:26 AM  

  • cnI'm surprised this bereaved dad has not filed suit against the maker of the SUV, the road, and what else touched his son before his death. Evidently this talented 29 year old did not have the common sence to cease from drinking, nor the sence to ask for a cab. So much education out there about drunk driving AND using marijuana....the pitcher is responsible for his actions....he received credit for strike outs and winning games, he should alos received credit for making bad choices as well. Being a star athelete does not constitute being immune of blame when screwing up.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:57 AM  

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