[F]aced with the potential bill from sledding injuries, some cities have opted to close hills rather than risk large liability claims.No one tracks how many cities have banned or limited sledding, but the list grows every year. One of the latest is in Dubuque, Iowa, where the City Council is moving ahead with a plan to ban sledding in all but two of its 50 parks."We have all kinds of parks that have hills on them," said Marie Ware, Dubuque's leisure services manager. "We can't manage the risk at all of those places. . . ."
City officials pointed to judgments in sledding lawsuits in the past decade, such as a $2 million judgment against Omaha, Nebraska, after a 5-year-old girl was paralyzed when she hit a tree and a $2.75 million payment when a man in Sioux City, Iowa, slid into a sign and injured his spinal cord.Gag me. What Will Wilkinson says:
Americans are not so much unusually litigious as unusually fearful, and this fearfulness extends to the prospect of lawsuits. The occasional jaw-dropping award in a personal injury or class-action lawsuit creates, like the occasional terrorist attack, a salient sense of pervasive danger. It's not that Dubuque or Des Moines suddenly faces a new and extraordinary risk of getting sued into oblivion. It's just that the risk, as small as it is, now looms larger in the imagination, becoming too great for the no-longer-bold American spirit to bear. Shutting down sledding hills is inspired by the same sort of simpering caution that keeps Americans shoeless in airport security lines and, closer to home, keeps parents from letting their kids walk a few blocks to school alone, despite the fact that America today is as safe as the longed-for "Leave It to Beaver" golden age.If Americans want to be free we have to stop being such a bunch of cowards.