Last summer I, like many others, read with sadness and horror the story of a Scout leader and five boys being rescued from Kolob Creek in Zion National Park. They had watched two other adult leaders perish in the rushing waters and were then stranded for six days before being rescued. We now learn that the survivors of the deceased and three of the five surviving boys have filed a $24 million lawsuit against the U.S. government because they were not "properly warned about the possible dangers of the fast-moving water in the canyon."
It seems obvious that there would be significant danger in entering a canyon that can only be approached by rappeling down a 1,000-foot cliff, which is how this "high adventure" activity began. It was also well-known that during the previous winter, all of our state and especially southern Utah, received a much higher than average snowfall and that high water levels in streams could be expected.I don't mean to make light of this horrible tragedy that has surely devastated the families involved. However, this lawsuit is a classic example of a disturbing trend in the way our society deals with adversity. That is, whenever something bad happens, it is someone else's fault, and that someone else has a deep pocket to pay for it.
The plaintiff's attorney, Gregory Phillips, states "they are doing the suit more out of principle than anything." If that is the case, I would like to see Phillips donate his $9.6 million contingency fee, and the plaintiffs their remaining portion, to a needy charity, if such an award is granted. This trend is also the principal reason for skyrocketing health-care costs, auto and homeowner insurance costs and the sad fact that no motel swimming pool has a diving board.
Something should be done to change this trend, but it won't likely happen because the vast majority of our elected lawmakers are attorneys. I do believe that we as a society need to realize that many of the adversities we experience are a result of human error, which is often our own, and just plain bad luck.