Friday, May 25, 2007

Josh Hancock’s Dad Can’t Sue Son, Sues Everybody Else

Josh Hancock’s father Dean is doubtless anguished over the death of his son, but suing everyone he can think of is just plain wrong. There is someone who is wholly responsible for the death of Josh Hancock, the St. Louis pitcher who died early in the morning on April 29: that would be Josh Hancock. Not the bar, not the tow truck driver, and certainly not the guy whose car stalled.

Dean Hancock’s lawyer, some shyster named Keith Kantack, should be ashamed to bring this case to court. Kantack’s going to make out either way by exploiting this poor man’s grief, because his fee gets paid whether this spurious suit wins or loses. And Hancock will pay those fees from his son’s estate, so for him it’s probably worth a gamble to see if he can alleviate his suffering by squeezing some money out of somebody else.

But what about the defendants? A restaurant, a tow truck operator, and a private citizen. Not exactly deep pockets. They have to get their own lawyers against this spurious lawsuit, whose end result could in any case be financially ruinous for them. Ambulance-chaser Kantack should be shunned from polite society forever for spearheading this. He’s doubtless one of those TV “We get money for you!” lawyers who is a plague upon society.

Why do I say the suit is spurious? Well, according to his teammates, it’s pretty clear that Hancock was an accomplished party animal who held his liquor well. Jim Edmonds thinks that if you eliminate one of the factors that led to the accident (drunk, on the cell phone, speeding) then Hancock would have avoided the stopped tow truck. So if Hancock is going 55 instead of 68, there’s no accident despite the fact that he’s still drunk and on the cell phone, according to a teammate that knew him.

Two nights earlier Hancock had an eerily similar incident where he lost the front bumper of his car in a crash at 5:30 AM. Police involved didn’t even test him for intoxication. This was the night before his infamous “show up late and panic everybody” game the next day. I suspect that if you reconstruct the earlier evening, you’ll find that there was little chance that Hancock was sober that night.

Case dismissed against the restaurant.

I’m not even going to discuss the marijuana in his car, and which will most likely be found in his bloodstream as well. It just makes this case even more of a farce than it already is.

I’m also not going to discuss Tony LaRussa’s sanctimonious comment:
"When you sign a contract with the Cardinals, you're talked to about these issues [such as drinking and driving]," La Russa said. "I did have a very serious heart to heart with Josh on that Thursday and on Saturday he still drank and still crashed. Maybe I could have done a better job in my conversation, but I pulled out all the stops."

Except to say this: shame on you, Tony LaBooze-a. You exemplified a life of drinking and driving drunk to your players, and in return one is now in a coffin. You’ve no right to lecture this guy on responsibilities and drinking and driving, and all during your “serious” lecture with him a few days earlier he was likely thinking “just like you, right, skip?” When you cede the moral high ground so completely, expect gutter-crawling behavior from your charges.

The reason that you don’t drink and drive (or smoke pot and drive or talk on the cell phone and drive) is because driving is dangerous, and doing those things lowers your ability to react to unexpected occurrences, like a stalled vehicle and tow truck in the lefthand land. And when you fail to react, you can be injured or killed, or injure and kill others.

Josh Hancock was surely not the only car that went by them on the interstate, he was just the only one too impaired not to avoid them. Thank goodness Hancock didn’t happen by before the tow truck was there to guard his car, or Justin Tolar (the car owner) would have likely been killed as well. Case dismissed against the tow truck driver and the car owner.

To me, the one redeeming fact of this entire case is that the only one dead is Josh Hancock. It was he that made the poor choices, he that took the risk, he that put himself and others in danger, and he that paid the price. Thankfully, it’s not the family of somebody else suing Hancock.