Thursday, May 24, 2007

I No Longer Grieve For Josh Hancock's Family

That's a pretty heartless post title, but after reading this piece, I think you'll see things my way.

Imagine that your son spends his whole evening at a bar, sipping drinks. He then decides it's a good idea to drive himself home while completely hammered, even though he can easily afford a cab or even a limo on his six-figure salary. On his way home, he gets into an accident. It can be fatal or non-fatal; we're not results-oriented here.

Driving drunk is stupid, but most people who do it don't suffer any consequences. It's like betting your life's savings on a big favorite. Usually you escape okay, but every once in awhile a Buster Douglas bankrupts you. Josh Hancock bet his life on Mike Tyson and lost. It's a sad story, but we can't feel too sorry for him. Warnings about drinking and driving are so ubiquitous that he must have known the risks going in.

Back to our hypothetical situation. As the father, obviously you're going to be very shaken up, especially if your son is killed or seriously hurt. But who do you think is at fault for the accident? If your son's name is Josh Hancock, apparently the culprits are the restaurant and its manager, and they're going to pay.

Hancock likely went to some parties in high school, and at some point, he probably drove himself home after knocking down a few. When Dean Hancock stayed up to see Josh stumble through the door at 2 AM, was his first instinct to blame the organizers of the party? Probably. Certainly, it was not to teach him that drunk driving is dangerous to yourself and others.

I know nothing else about Dean Hancock, but this lawsuit tells me he fits into one of two categories:

- A father who not only doesn't bother to teach his son not to drink and drive, but also believes that when the son does so, it's the fault of others
- A money-grubber who's trying to profit from the death of his own son

There's really no third option. It may be premature to assume that the rest of Hancock's family is like Dean, but they probably had the opportunity to stop him from going public with this, and decided not to.

A few other comments:

- There is no doubt in my mind that this lawsuit would not have been filed unless Josh Hancock was killed or seriously injured. That means that the suit alleges that the restaurant is at fault not only for over-serving Hancock, but also for his poor driving ability while intoxicated--or his bad luck, if you want to look at it that way.

- Josh Hancock was not some rube that didn't know what he was getting into. How many 29 year olds do you know that don't know drinking and driving is dangerous? If you believe Dean Hancock, these ignorant grown men are all over the place, victims of an alcohol culture they do not understand, waiting to be endangered by restaurants and bars.

- Imagine the precedent this suit could potentially set in place. Whenever I want to do something illegal in the future, all I have to do is make sure I'm good and liquored up, particularly at a bar with deep pockets. Nothing will ever be my fault again.

- If a settlement is reached in this case, or the courts awards Dean Hancock anything, I'm retiring from gambling to start a career filing frivolous lawsuits. It's got to be more profitable and much more of a sure thing.

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