The Ice Lawsuit Cometh (Potentially)

Hi Readers: It’s weird, isn’t it, how something as remote as litigation ends up changing REAL, daily life? But it does. This note is just a great example of what happens when we see everything in terms of a court case down the road. — Lenore
Dear Free-Range Kids: I live in the suburbs of DC — Frederick, MD to be exact, a lovely community that is rich in history. We have a fantastic “downtown” area that hosts lots of community and cultural arts events on a regular basis. Anyhooo, last Friday was their yearly “Fire & Ice” display. The streets are lined with many ice sculptures on display, the quaint stores are open late, free trolley rides etc. etc.


My kids are 8 & 10 years old. As we were browsing the streets this evening, we came upon a fenced in outdoor area that advertised itself as the “ice playground.” Cool. As the kids and I curiously went to step into the “playground,” we were abruptly halted by a lady with a clipboard. Since this fenced-in area was actually the patio dining area of a restaurant (closed during winter months, obviously), I thought this lady was taking names for the wait list to get seated inside. Wrong. She was having anyone who entered the area (even adults sans children), sign a full page release. I printed my name and then signed at the bottom. I then was asked to print the names of my children under my signature. The lady was most pleasant and I obliged accordingly, thinking to myself how ridiculous this is.

To make this even more absurd, the “ice playground” consisted of 3 things. Hold on tight here, they are a bit risky and dangerous:

1. A large ice sculpture (bear shaped) that was made into a chair. Anyone could line up to sit in the chair and have their picture taken, for free.

2. Another large ice sculpture, clown-shaped, with various holes in the ice. A large plastic bin sat in front of the clown with bean bags in it. Anyone could play to their heart’s content, trying to get a bean bag to go through one of the holes.

3. Lastly, another ice sculpture of a checkers-type game with plastic checker pieces on it. It was actually more of a mini shuffleboard, where one could slide the plastic checker pieces on the ice table.

That was it. The Ice Playground. No ice sliding, no balance beam, no diving board, high wire or frozen ball pit that I was assuming would have been at this high-risk “playground,” with mandatory release required.

I am so sorry that I did not get a copy of the form to email you. It was one for the books. Here is a link to the events for the evening though. Enjoy your winter! — A friend in Maryland

The fear of lawsuits is freezing the life out of us. Brrr. — L



Outrage of the Week: Before the Slumber Party, Paperwork

Hi Readers! In the category of “overkill” and “probably not representative of the culture as a whole, but still instructive,” and “wacko!” here’s an amazing post from the blog Doctor Grumpy in the House: A dad (Dr. Grumpy, I presume) was dropping off his daughter at a friend’s house for a sleepover when the mom halted him. She demanded he sign a legal waiver promising he would not sue

for over any injuries Marie might sustain in the course of a “normal slumber party” (whatever the hell that is).

Fill out a form listing what ER I wanted her taken to in the event of an emergency.

Fill out a paper listing medicine and food allergies (I can understand that part, actually), and any special dietary requirements.

List her pediatrician’s name and number.

There were even more blanks to fill in, and the mom was apparently angry Dr. Grumpy had not brought along his insurance card.

Now, I know: Most parents are not at all this worried or fanatical. But I did meet a dad who was asked to sign an insurance waiver when he dropped off his kid at a house where there was a trampoline, so this pre-fun paperwork could be the tip of the (don’t sue us if we hit an) iceberg.  Either way, it’s another example of the fear that puts walls between people when we see each other not as “all in this together” but as potential litigants on opposite sides of the aisle.

And can you imagine the psychological damage if the daughter tries to levitate and can’t? Or, God forbid, fails to see Mary Worth in the mirror? — Lenore (and thanks to Ian in Hamburg for the tip!)