Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
May 24, 2007
LAW/BASEBALL: Everyone Else's Fault

This is insane:

The father of Josh Hancock filed suit Thursday, 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.

Authorities said the 29-year pitcher had a blood alcohol content of nearly twice the legal limit when he crashed into the back of the tow truck. He was also speeding and using a cell phone and wasn't wearing a seat belt, police chief Joe Mokwa said after the accident. Marijuana was also found in the SUV.

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 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?" [Keith] Kantack[, a lawyer for Dean Hancock] asked. "Why weren't flares put out? Why was the tow truck there for an exorbitant amount of time?"

Let's see how many things are wrong with this picture:

1. Isn't Hancock responsible for knowing that drinking for hours and then getting in his car is a bad idea (to say nothing of speeding, talking on a cell phone and not wearing his seatbelt)? The man had pot in his car, the bar didn't put that there. He made bad choices, and there are consequences for those. It's not like this is a lawsuit filed by some innocent bystander injured by Hancock.

2. Hancock made good money, died single as a grown man, left no dependents. Why should his father be entitled to get money on his behalf?

3. He's suing the guy whose car stalled on the highway? Because his car stalled out after he got cut off? And from whom he will presumably seek a share of the lost wages for a major league ballplayer who was driving drunk while yakking on the phone? Gimme a break. The tow truck driver may have been in some ways negligent, but even then, the guy drives a tow truck, and it's not his fault that Hancock was plastered and on the phone.

4. The cell phone manufacturer hasn't been sued. Yet.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 5:00 PM | Baseball 2007 • | Law 2006-08 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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