The world is coming to an end.
Of course, I don't mean that literally. It's an old expression. But some of the stories that have made the national news cycle lately sure make it seem like we are now living in a time where people have lost all judgment and common sense.
Take the story of Tomas Lopez, a beach lifeguard in Florida. Lopez left his coverage zone to help save a drowning man in the swim-at-your-own-risk area. Lifeguards are trained to respond to emergencies like these, so of course Lopez's first instinct was to help.
But Lopez's employer felt the company's policy of lifeguards not leaving their coverage zones took precedence over common sense. So they fired him. Media and public pressure drove Lopez's employer to offer him his job back. But the decision to fire Lopez in the first place was driven at least partly by fear of a lawsuit if someone was hurt inside the coverage zone while Lopez assisted someone outside of it.
Matthew Migliaccio is a 13-year-old Little League catcher from New Jersey. Two years ago before a game, he overthrew a ball intended for a pitcher he was helping to warm up. The errant ball hit Elizabeth Lloyd in the face. She was sitting in the benches behind the bullpen.
Lloyd is now suing Migliaccio, claiming his throw was "intentional and reckless," that his actions were negligent and careless, that he "assaulted and battered" Lloyd and caused "severe, painful and permanent injuries." To make matters worse, Lloyd's husband is also suing for the loss of "services, society and consortium" of his wife.
Remember, this happened at a Little League park, where errant throws and foul balls land in the grandstands and the surrounding areas all the time.
And it doesn't stop there. Singer Justin Bieber, his record label and his concert promoter are being sued for $9 million by an Oregon woman who claims she suffered severe permanent hearing damage at a concert she and her daughter attended two years ago. The suit claims the music exceeded safe decibel levels and the injury occurred when "Bieber climbed into a heart-shaped gondola that pulled him over the crowd, causing a frenzy of screams creating a sound blast."
I've been to more than a few concerts in my time, including the Big Time Rush concert I attended with my daughter in Milwaukee recently. I think it's safe to say almost every concert exceeds safe decibel levels. As for the screaming, that's been around since singers such as Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, James Brown and the Beatles hit the stage.
Give me a break!
Whatever happened to accepting some reasonable risk? When you go to a baseball game, a foul ball or bad throw might come your way. You don't sue the players. When you're riding a bike, you might fall off. You don't sue the manufacturer. When you wear headphones and turn up the volume on your iPod, you don't sue Apple because you've suffered hearing loss.
But that's exactly what's happening. It seems the concept of personal responsibility and accepting reasonable risk is lost on some.
Many point to the woman who won a lawsuit against McDonald's — because she put a hot cup of coffee in her lap while driving, spilled it on herself and suffered second-degree burns — as the beginning of these types of lawsuits. Whatever the case, today it has gotten much worse — a clear case of what I like to call "it's someone else's fault that this happened to me"-itis.
I hope there's a cure, because it's a shame that I even have to write a column about this. Hey, maybe I should sue.
Derrell Connor, of Verona, hosts the "Outreach" talk show at 6 p.m. Wednesdays on WIBA-AM (1310) in Madison.