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The pothole, the cyclists and the lawyer


SLINGER

The Kolapore Uplands, 5,000 hectares of the Niagara Escarpment a little south and west of the bottom end of Georgian Bay, is the largest and roughest patch of semi-wilderness left in southern Ontario. Steep and rugged, what isn't cliff face or exposed rock is hardwood forest regrown since being clear-cut a century ago.

It is a dreamscape for the craziest risk-takers, and since the 1970s, the University of Toronto Outing Club and the Kolapore Uplands Wilderness Ski Trails Committee have cut 60 kilometres of trails through it that are earnestly posted "Challenging Ski Trails - Not For Novice Skiers."

They are volunteer organizations; the trails are maintained by volunteers; anybody can use them for free. Costs are covered by donations, which totalled $2,600 this year, and the sale of a trail map without which it is easy to blunder into even greater peril.

Since the volunteers' interest is solely skiing, in seasons when there is no snow the trails are left to fend for themselves. But in the 1990s the mountain bike appeared, and with it the mountain bikers who discovered in Kolapore the hellishly beautiful terrain that makes their testosterone-charged adrenalin bubble and boil. The best (that is, the worst) of the trails earn the highest mountain-biking accolade: radical.

Presumably "totally radical'' would be prying open elevator doors at the CN Tower and biking down the empty shaft.

It's unlikely that the lack of maintenance for cycling is considered a drawback.

Then along came James Leone, 31, a Torontonian who, last Aug. 1, was on a trail that bikers grade as "easiest" when, according to documents filed in court, "suddenly and without warning his bicycle came to an abrupt stop" and he was thrown forward, "striking the ground with sudden and violent force."

Plunging into a "hole in the ground, the depth, size and location of which constituted an unusual danger" might sound like something that's all in a day's (or five minutes') adventure for a mountain biker, except for one thing: Leone is a lawyer. As one of the country's foremost legal experts explained to me, the first thing first-year law students learn the first day of civil procedure is, when you sue, "sue everything in sight."

Leone is suing the outing club, the ski trails committee, the regional trails network, the local municipality and the province (which owns the land where he encountered the alleged hole) - everything but the sky above and the Earth itself. He wants $1,150,000 in damages for expenses and lost income as a result of a fractured vertebra he says he suffered, while his co-plaintiff - his wife, Ashley, who wasn't biking - "sustained a loss of guidance, care and companionship" she might reasonably have expected if he hadn't run into said hole.

Leone's stated position is that, whether they like it or not, the volunteer organizations and the province, by permitting the trails to exist on its land, are responsible for creating "a situation of danger from which the plaintiff, despite all reasonable efforts and precautions was unable to extricate himself," and that they "failed to take reasonable care to protect the plaintiff from the unusual danger, of which they knew or ought to have known."

Leone and his lawyer declined several requests for an interview, so we don't know the answers to three questions I left on his voice mail. Was he alone? Given the seriousness of his injuries, how did he make his way from the site of the wreck? And how much mountain-biking experience did he have, or was this his first time?

These lead to other questions. If a hole in the ground was such a surprise, would he have been better off mountain biking on a sidewalk in Toronto (although holes abound in them)? If the hole was big enough to crack up in, how did he fail to see it if he was "exercising reasonable care for his own safety" as his statement of claim attests?

And how come nobody else crashed into such a big hole, or did they and just figured that's the way it goes?

Certainly skiers have gotten hurt on the trails, some of them local experts, some severely - but nobody has ever sued before. Mountain biking ain't kiddie car.

By suing, James Leone might make it so that nobody can do either. Even if he loses, chances are that the limited insurance the volunteer organizations carry will become so expensive they can't afford it, or it won't be available at all. This would force them to stop the work they've done for years. The trails would disappear.

It is a curious thing, and it seems to be verging on epidemic - people refusing to accept responsibility for their own actions. If something bad happens to you, even if it happened because you did something beyond your abilities or plain foolish, blame somebody else. Nothing is your fault.
 

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There's no app for this.
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I'd be careful

that Tirranna lawyer will sue yer @$$ off for breaking his eardrums, regardless of mandolin volume.

I can't believe he's doing that regarding the escarpment. :rolleyes:

Jeez. Jim
 

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Hopefully, the bonehead will get tossed out of court. I wish someone would pass a law requiring mandatory jail time for suits deemed "frivalous". Some people might stop and think twice before suing.
 

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Now does everybody understand why tort reform is important?

Do y'all get it now.

Tort reform isn't about protecting big corporations or making money off defective products and all that other happy horsecrap the trial lawyer's lobbyists (the Democrat party) have been telling you.

Tort reform is about keeping us all safe from losers like this.

Ron
 

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RonSonic said:
Do y'all get it now.

Tort reform isn't about protecting big corporations or making money off defective products and all that other happy horsecrap the trial lawyer's lobbyists (the Democrat party) have been telling you.

Tort reform is about keeping us all safe from losers like this.

Ron
Thing is... Tort Reform signed by Bush won't do any good. This guy is in Canada.

While stupid lawsuits exist, I don't want to give the megacorp, or even the corp, the abilty to just blow off a dangerous product and I do want them to pay for gross negligence.

I.e. The Pinto needed a simple repair so it wouldn't burn up when hit, but Ford decided to save the money instead of change the design. Do we really want to protect that?

JmZ
 

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I was using Canada's misfortune as an example.

JmZ said:
Thing is... Tort Reform signed by Bush won't do any good. This guy is in Canada.

While stupid lawsuits exist, I don't want to give the megacorp, or even the corp, the abilty to just blow off a dangerous product and I do want them to pay for gross negligence.

I.e. The Pinto needed a simple repair so it wouldn't burn up when hit, but Ford decided to save the money instead of change the design. Do we really want to protect that?

JmZ
But you're right that we can't help them on this one.

The Pinto is a 30 year old story, let's talk recent history. We do want those who are negligent to pay, and pay big. But that is those who are negligent or malicious, not someone who was otherwise doing a good thing in an imperfect world. That's the difference. I'll never argue for letting the irresponsible off the hook. Perpetuating our present welfare for lawyers program doesn't serve anyone other than the lawyers.

Ron
 

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RonSonic said:
Do y'all get it now.

Tort reform isn't about protecting big corporations or making money off defective products and all that other happy horsecrap the trial lawyer's lobbyists (the Democrat party) have been telling you.

Tort reform is about keeping us all safe from losers like this.

Ron
The causes and solutions to insurance problems lie with the insurance industry, not the legal system.

Moreover, as I have said before, personal responsibility cannot be an absolute. Try letting personal responsibility pay for your basic care after you become paralyzed.
 

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I couldn't help it, I emailed the guy

Ahole too big to miss
JV,
When you mountain bike it is your responsibility to inform yourself of hazards, avoid them, and not create them by your actions. I don't care what you think you can get away with because of laws. I am really unhappy with what you are doing here. You are now officially unwelcome to visit in California and no way would you be welcome to ride here; you would just screw it up here, too.
I am a professional portrait photographer. Your portrait fits your actions as I see them. Very scary.

And my response to "Try letting personal responsibility pay for your basic care after you become paralyzed." I'm afraid I can't support this thinking in this case. It is too much like the Darwin Awards. Be a fool. Get yourself paralyzed. We all have to pay for your stupidity. I'm sorry you got hurt. It was your own fault.
Geez! Aren't ther some basic laws that cover this stuff like caveat emptor, slow traffic moves to the right, the basic speed law, look before you leap, only a fool rushes in...... oh nevermind.
 

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Can't remember where I got this...

"The ultimate effect of shielding man from folly is to create a society of fools."

I hate to stereotype but is seems a lot of lawyers are just well educated parasites.
 

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Berkeley Mike said:
Ahole too big to miss
JV,
When you mountain bike it is your responsibility to inform yourself of hazards, avoid them, and not create them by your actions. I don't care what you think you can get away with because of laws. I am really unhappy with what you are doing here. You are now officially unwelcome to visit in California and no way would you be welcome to ride here; you would just screw it up here, too.
I am a professional portrait photographer. Your portrait fits your actions as I see them. Very scary.

And my response to "Try letting personal responsibility pay for your basic care after you become paralyzed." I'm afraid I can't support this thinking in this case. It is too much like the Darwin Awards. Be a fool. Get yourself paralyzed. We all have to pay for your stupidity. I'm sorry you got hurt. It was your own fault.
Geez! Aren't ther some basic laws that cover this stuff like caveat emptor, slow traffic moves to the right, the basic speed law, look before you leap, only a fool rushes in...... oh nevermind.
People do things when they become desperate. Some guy gets paralyzed. Do you think he is going to be conetent because of personal responsibility? How about his family? Will personal responsibility take care of him and his family?

Everyone wants to blame the lawyers, yet lawyers are the first people they call when they need help. Funny, eh?
 

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Usa

A big thankyou to USA on this one. Riders in Canada seem to be worried about getting sued if they say anything. Maybe we should just be quite as our singletrack dissappears.
I am tring to smash the crap out of this guy in the Court of Public Opinion on the EASTERN CANADA section. So far alot of Canada has said nothing, Oh well, maybe you guys will let us come down and ride your trails when ours are gone.
 
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