Monday, February 02, 2009

Judge rules bear-attack suit can proceed

The Salt Lake Tribune reports:

A judge declined Friday to throw out a lawsuit accusing the federal government of negligence in the death of an 11-year-old Pleasant Grove boy who was killed by a bear while camping. U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball ruled that the government does not have immunity from suit under the circumstances in the case, noting officials knew an aggressive bear had been present earlier in the day at the campsite where the mauling occurred. Government attorneys argued at a November hearing that there is no requirement that federal agencies post signs warning the public about a bear or close a campground. But a lawyer for the family of Sam Ives contended that under an agreement with state agencies, the U.S. Forest Service was required to take action to protect campers. He said that before the boy was killed, authorities had decided the bear was so dangerous that it needed to be euthanized. Sam was camping with his mother, stepfather and brother on June 17, 2007, when a black bear sliced open their tent, pulled him out and killed him. Earlier in the day, a bear had raided coolers at the same campsite in American Fork Canyon and hit another camper, who notified authorities. The bear was tracked down and killed the next day. The boy's family also filed a negligence suit against the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. The agency says it was not required to issue warnings, and its request that the suit be dismissed is pending in Utah's 4th District Court...

Watch these FS MOUs or other similar agreements start to disappear across the West. They break written agreements with ranchers all the time and with no consequences. Looks like agreements with permittees or other private individuals mean nothing, but agreements with another government may have some teeth. Unfortunately, this may also mean that without the MOU, the individual would be left out in cold. The FS has no responsiblity except to the FS.

Now if this tragic event had happened on private property do you believe the landowner would be held at least partially responsible?


Anonymous said...

The only problem is the government will simply re-write the regulations and policies to allow them to be negligent if they lose this one. Anyone following this case has to be horrified at the fact that the agencies responsible for this bear and this campsite went home at 5 PM leaving the people and this child unprotected. As if they had nothing better to do than go home and watch the news. Awful, there are no words to describe how horrible this act was it was very close to criminal negligence.

Anonymous said...

Oh heck let's take the gloves off, it WAS criminal negligence resulting in death.