Imagine if every kid who took a towel from the linen closet, wrote a big “S” on it, tied it around his neck, and then got hurt while pretending to be Superman turned around and sued someone. Now stop imagining, and meet the reality of litigious America in the 21st century.
Yet another school district has bowed to legal pressure by banning swings from its school playgrounds. In a classic case of one-person-ruined-it-for-everyone, Cabell County, West Virginia, has removed swing sets from 19 elementary schools over fear of a lawsuit. Or rather, more litigation.
The suit that led to their over-reaction was filed by the parents of one boy after their son broke his arm after jumping off a swing “like Superman.” That’s not the school’s fault. In fact, it’s no one’s fault. It’s just another boy acting in the all-American tradition of pretending to play superhero and discovering that gravity isn’t just a good idea, it’s the law.
Sure, the kid got hurt, but what kid hasn’t gotten hurt at some point? I’ll bet their son was proud to have that cast on his arm, to show it off to his classmates and have them sign it, despite the itching underneath.
The Cabell County school district settled the case for $20,000 — then followed the advice of their lawyer and ordered all the swing sets dismantled.
I’m glad my parents didn’t get a lawyer when my then-six-year-old brother Seth lent his bicycle to a friend who then proceeded to run him over (accidentally), knocking him to the ground and breaking both bones in his left forearm. Seth, who was born a lefty, had the cast on so long that he had to learn to write with his right arm, which explains why his penmanship is still so bad people can’t believe he’s not a doctor.
If that happened in our modern litigious times, none of the kids in our garden apartment complex would be allowed to ride bicycles again — ever. Which, in our day, would also have meant the downfall of the entire baseball card business, for without spokes going round and round, who needed a Tom Tresh rookie card?