Thursday, May 31, 2007

About the Josh Hancock suicide

My post on the Josh Levine - Woody Harrelson lawsuit prompted Carmi to mention the Josh Hancock lawsuit.

I wrote about Hancock before, but I never provided this update:

The father of Josh Hancock filed suit...claiming a restaurant provided drinks to the St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher even though he was intoxicated prior to the crash that killed him.

The suit, filed in St. Louis Circuit Court by Dean Hancock of Tupelo, Miss., does not specify damages. Mike Shannon's Restaurant, owned by the longtime Cardinals broadcaster who starred on three World Series teams in the 1960s, is a defendant in the case along with Shannon's daughter, Patricia Shannon Van Matre, the restaurant manager.

Other defendants include Eddie's Towing, the company whose flatbed tow truck was struck by Hancock's sport utility vehicle in the early hours of April 29; tow truck driver Jacob Edward Hargrove; and Justin Tolar, the driver whose stalled car on Interstate 64 was being assisted by Hargrove.

The Cardinals and Major League Baseball were not listed as defendants.

Why not? Everyone else was (except, of course, for the parents that raised Josh).

Perhaps there may be an argument for listing the restaurant, but including the other people is really stretching it:

The lawsuit claimed Tolar was negligent in allowing his vehicle to reach the point where it stalled on the highway and for failing to move it out of the way of oncoming traffic. A police report said the car became stalled when it spun out after being cut off by another vehicle.

Police said Hargrove noticed the stalled vehicle and stopped to help. The report said he told officers he was there five to seven minutes before his truck was hit by Hancock's SUV. But Kantack [Dean Hancock's lawyer] said the tow truck may have been there up to 15 minutes, yet failed to get the stalled vehicle out of the way.

"Were the police contacted?" Kantack asked. "Why weren't flares put out? Why was the tow truck there for an exorbitant amount of time?"

Oh, great. Lawyer Kantack is starting to sound like Nancy Grace.

Back to the ESPN story:

Dean Hancock said in a statement that the "facts and circumstances" of Josh's death "have caused great pain to all of Josh's family." As administrator of his son's estate, Dean Hancock said he has an obligation to represent the family on all issues, "including any legal actions necessary against those who contributed to the untimely and unnecessary death."

So, let's think about who contributed to this death. Will Dean Hancock pursue legal action against:

  • The person who bought enough alcohol to contribute to Josh Hancock's 0.157 blood alcohol level

  • The person who bought 8.55 grams of marijuana

  • The person who was talking on a cellular telephone at the time of the accident

  • The person who got behind the wheel of a car without wearing a seat belt

Well, Dean Hancock won't be suing that person - because he's dead.

I don't agree with The People's Champ (if you can't tell from the title, I believe that Josh Hancock himself was ultimately responsible for his own death), but the Champ's words should be heard:

We all want there to be a Mike Shannon’s to blame. We want to say this would have never happened if that stalled vehicle wasn’t there. The truth is, the responsibility lies with all of us. It's easy to say this is all Josh Hancock's fault, afterall nobody forced him to drink that much and he made the decision to drive. But when did it get to the point where it's every man for himself? What happened to common decency? How come when we see a man stumble out of a restaurant after hours of drinking, obviously too drunk to drive, we laugh at him instead of offering a ride? While I admit Hancock made his decision, I can't help but think.....society failed him.

(Oingo Boingo had something to say about that back in the day.)

Jamey quotes from a purported letter to the lawyer Keith Kantack. Excerpts:

I have read with interest the news stories regarding the lawsuit you have filed on behalf of Dean Hancock, father of the late Josh Hancock, the St. Louis Cardinals pitcher. All I can say is: bully for you! I am writing to applaud your actions, but also to politely suggest that you have not gone far enough, not nearly far enough, in assigning blame for Mr. Hancock's demise....

The towing company and the driver of the disabled vehicle? Slam dunks. (I have often said that people in broken-down vehicles and the service trucks that go their rescue are one of this nation's greatest menaces. It is my hope that your case brings this incredible hazard out in the open by means of the hot-lit glare of a civil trial.) The nerve of that motorist allowing themselves to be cut off like that! Shameful and irresponsible.

I beg you, though, Mr. Kantack: please do not stop with just these defendants! They are merely links in a long chain of responsible parties from whom the full measure of retribution must be exacted.

I wonder where Jimmy Michael Giorsetti, George W. Abbes, and Nikki Chambers were when the events took place. Although you'd think that they (or at least Abbes and Chambers) are Angels fans, not Dodgers fans.


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