Personal responsibility

April 16, 2010

I’m sitting here in a Panera Bread near my home, working and playing a very important game of Freecell online, while observing two young families dining near me. That party consists of three adults and two cute little girls, probably each about four or five years old. The adults are discussing something, I’m not listening, while one of the little girls has apparently decided that there is no better jungle gym than the Panera furniture. I’m watching her use two chairs like parallel bars. Her athletic prowess aside, my main thought is: What if she falls and hurts herself? I cannot tell if that is the main thought of the adults, because they are largely ignoring her.

Parents, please take care of your children. I don’t believe in collective responsibility, as you may have figured by now. So I’m not going to interrupt the parents. This is exactly the kind of situation that spurs the current discussion revolving around tort reform: Cute little girl falls, breaks her neck, spends the rest of her life in a wheelchair. Parents sue Panera Bread, figuring it was Panera’s fault, not theirs, that their kid was grabassing all over the furniture. Jury delivers a $10 million or more verdict. Judge doesn’t have the balls to set aside the verdict and tell said plaintiff (parents) that if they’d been watching their child, this never would have happened, and it’s on them.  Said plaintiffs become rich precisely because they are lazy, and Panera goes out of business, costing hundreds of jobs and me a place to eat and get free Wi-Fi.

This is just wrong.

I’m all for children getting some exercise and blowing off steam…in the right venue. And supervised by the right people. Not in a restaurant.

It’s probably better I never went to law school. If had become a judge, I might have told those parents, “You weren’t paying attention to your kids, and this is the result. It was your fault. Deal with it.” And if I had become law school faculty, I might have tried to teach young lawyers that, if they become judges, they should grow a set and refuse to even hear cases like this, let alone permit lottery-like judgments, a reward for laziness and flat-out stupidity.

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