Because Everybody Is Entitled To My Opinion

"O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, . . . in wrath remember mercy" (Habakkuk 3:2).
"Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee?" (Psalm 85:6)

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Who Is to Blame?

Some of you may remember back in June when 3 boys climbed into the trunk of a Toyota Camry and died. The bodies were not found until a couple days later by a relative looking for jumper cables. This was despite a massive search effort by local authorities. Now the father of one of the boys plans to file a lawsuit. He charges that the city of Camden, the police and the auto manufacturer were responsible for the death of his son. The Homespun Bloggers Symposium this week has several questions about the situation.

1. Who is ultimately responsible for the loss of these three children?
This was a tragic accident and I don't think anyone is responsible as far as being criminally negligent. My knee-jerk reaction to situations like this is always the parents failed somewhere. They did not keep a close enough watch on these boys and they failed to teach them what is and isn't an appropriate place to play. They should have taught the kids about the dangers of playing in trunks of cars. But keep in mind that these were children and children don't always remember what they are taught.

2. Do you believe that the police were at all responsible for not finding the children in time? (It's hinted that on of the parents has decided to sue the City of Camden New Jersey)
I think the police may shoulder some responsibility here. I can not believe that the vehicle was on the property the entire time and no one, especially the police, searched the car. Just for the sake of thoroughness someone should have checked the car. Of the 150 law enforcement officers who were called in on the search, I realized that only a few would have been to the home. But come on, at some point during the 13 to 33 hours that the coroner said it took for the boys to suffocate, one of them should have said "Check the car."

3. Do you believe that auto manufacturers are responsible for providing additional safety features that would prevent this type of tragedy in the future? (They've also been named as potential litigants in this case.)
Absolutely not. An automobile is designed for a few very specific purposes. Allowing children to safely play in the truck without fear of suffocation goes way beyond the purpose and reasonable use of the car. Cars since 2002 have the release handle inside to prevent people getting trapped. The car in question was a 1992 model and as such did not require one. I can see a potential problem for Toyota. If it was deemed necessary to require manufacturers to install emergency openers on the inside of the trunk, then the lack of a handle in the car in question may be seen as contributing to the tragedy. Some left leaning judge and jury may equate that to liability. Personally I think the lawsuit is just to make the father richer.

4. Why do you think that if this parent feels so strongly about going after the "wrongdoers" in this case, why doesn't he try to sue the parents of the other children lost in the incident?
If punishing wrongdoers is his only motivation then he would not go after the other parents because they have suffered the same loss. He could not hold them more responsible than he holds his estranged wife and himself on that level. If however; he is motivated by money, the obvious answer is the other parents don't have the assets that a car manufacturer, a city, and a police department have.

This was a terrible tragedy. If becomes more tragic for the parents now that the father of one of the boys, a man who didn't even live with his son, plans to rehash the tragedy in court. Someone once said Judge not a father's anger until you become a father. So I admit that this man may be dealing with the situation as he thinks best. I personally don't think there is anything to be gained here, other than a couple million dollars.

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