How stupid can some people get? Over the years, I’ve seen so many bizarre stories of people doing stupid things and then suing others for their stupidity.
I used to work for a utility company helping to build electrical substations. One substation in particular I’ll never forget. We built a 12 foot high block fence around the substation. Razor ribbon was then installed on top of the block wall and signs were posted on every side warning people to keep out. The signs read:
“DANGER – High Voltage – Keep Out”
A couple years after the substation was completed and fired up, two boys, ages 10 and 12, ignored the signs and used extension ladders and a blanket over the razor ribbon to climb into the substation. One of the boys was electrocuted and killed and the other boy seriously injured. The parents sued the utility and collected $25 million. The judge declared we hadn’t taken enough steps to secure the substation even though we had met all of the legal standards required. It didn’t matter that the boys ignored the signs and trespassed into the substation.
When I read about what happened to Renae Ferguson at a small Michigan zoo, it reminded me of the substation lawsuit. She was visiting the Sunrise Side Nature Trail and Exotic Park near East Tawas, Michigan. The park had signs posted warning people not to try to touch the animals. Ferguson ignored the signs; put her hand through the chain link fence to pet a male African lion when the lion ripped most of her middle finger off. She told the local media:
“I put my hand down there to pet it and it ripped my finger.”
Now Ferguson says she’s going to sue the park for not taking proper precautions to protect people from the dangerous animals. She claims that the zookeeper told her it was okay to pet the lion. After it took her finger, she claims park officials asked her to lie about the incident.
However, in an email release, the park stated:
“The lady went into the security area and was told by the guide to get back and the lady stated she wanted to touch the lion and continued, against the guide’s warning, to put her finger inside the fence and the lion nipped the end of her finger.”
They also state that Ferguson should have heeded the warning signs that were posted in plain sight, but she insisted on touching a real lion.
I often laugh at some warning labels that tell people to take frozen food out of the box before placing in oven and so on, but reading instances like this, I understand why they have to state the obvious. We have a society of dumbed down people who seem to think that warning signs aren’t intended for them. Who in their right mind would ignore warning signs about dangerous animals and then stick their hand into a lion’s cage? Oh, Renae Ferguson would, that’s who.
Ferguson also reminds me of the parents who went camping by a lake in central Arizona. Their teenage son was attacked and injured by a rabid mountain lion. The parents filed a lawsuit against the Arizona Game and Fish Department for failing to control their wildlife. Fortunately this case was laughed out of court and I hope Ferguson’s case gets tossed also.