Utah Supreme Court rules in favor of family of boy killed by bear

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  • Rustymommy Clovis, NM
    July 23, 2013 10:37 p.m.

    Why is it that so many people feel that even things that are not predictable have to be somebody's "fault"? Holy Cow!! Who doesn't know that bears live in mountain areas? Everything has to be somebody's fault. Think about all the warning labels manufacturers have to place on products. "Caution: Coffee is Hot." "Warning: This ice cream contains milk products." Grow up people. You want your mountains littered with signs, "Warning! Bears live in the woods." When did people stop being responsible for using common sense? God gave people brains for a reason...so they could think for themselves.

  • I-am-I South Jordan, UT
    July 22, 2013 1:56 p.m.

    I also don't really agree with the logic used to over rule the previous ruling. Bears are part of the nature of the land. Bears are on the land. They are indeed harder to predict where they will be than say a rock or a tree but they are a part of the land, but that doesn't mean they do not naturally come with the land. I think it should be a split responsibility like I was mentioning before. The state had some responsibility as did the family. For either one to deny that is silly. Sure the state could have done something to discourage camping in the area, but certainly the family should have understood some risk is involved when camping. Just because something rarely happens doesn't mean that you should pretend the risk of it happening doesn't exist.

  • I-am-I South Jordan, UT
    July 22, 2013 1:45 p.m.

    I'm not sure I agree with this ruling. The media also doesn't tell us how the ruling goes. In negligence cases often times both parties are negligent in some form or another and the responsibility is split according to how responsible the court feels each party is. This could have happened but this article makes no mention of it. I would generally say that there is some risk involving animals attacks whenever you enter a wilderness area. What our legal system has failed to do is establish how much risk that is (and rightfully so because determining it would be a headache and a half and probably not very accurate). I would think that a reasonable person upon entering the wilderness accepts the risk of animal attacks. Just like a reasonable person upon entering a sporting event accepts the risk associated with fast moving objects (baseballs, hockey pucks, etc) hitting them and killing them. No sign needs be posted for sporting events. I suppose the state posting fliers may have prevented this death but to say that either party is wholly negligent seems (with the evidence I have) unreasonable.

  • J-TX Allen, TX
    July 22, 2013 12:06 p.m.

    Mealymouth said, "Because of this ruling, I feel like we might now be safer up our canyon, because we should be warned when a bear has been aggressive in the area. Period. That's all the Ives were trying to have happen."

    Yeah, that, and $2M.

    I think they should have been warned, that the employees should be held accountable (assuming their job description and training clearly made them responsible for warning campers there was an aggressive bear around).

    I also think that there should be reasonable limits as to damages. $50K wouldn't bring the boy back, no money would. But if there was negligence, $50K would bury the child and provide therapy for the siblings. Which of you would begrudge them that?

  • Captain Green Heber City, UT
    July 22, 2013 12:03 a.m.

    Remember, it us the taxpayers who will pay for this settlement. While it might seem proper and kind to grant them compensation for their loss, the fact remains that there are critters in the woods and people must take responsibility for their own actions when they go camping. Penalizing all taxpayers because of the action of a bear, over which no one has control, is preposterous. I am being robbed for it, and I resent it greatly!

  • JKR Holladay, UT
    July 21, 2013 6:13 a.m.

    My understanding was that the campsite in question was "at large" in Am Fork Canyon, not within a developed campground. These free at large sites have gotten rarer and rarer over the last 25 years, especially in the Wasatch but also in the Uintahs. What this decision means is that the state and federal governments will simply close all the at large campsites so they don't have to notify everybody about problems. It's a shame and will make camping in the mountains less private and more expensive.

  • Sandra N GLENDALE, AZ
    July 20, 2013 7:14 p.m.

    Someone should have posted a sign, or driven by and told them there was a bear wandering around. They were in a camp ground, not just under a tree in the canyon, etc. One sign might have saved the child's life. We'll never know.

  • Reasonable Person Layton, UT
    July 20, 2013 6:59 p.m.

    This was an "informal" campsite, not in an established campground. You can't close an informal camp, and we were always taught that by using one, you were at the mercy of whatever came by.

    Also, the family had left food outside and inside the tent.

    While it's a terrible tragedy, we all need to remember that the bears ARE natural there, and to be prepared with precautions.

  • killpack Sandy, UT
    July 20, 2013 5:01 p.m.

    Ann Amberly,

    Is it just that the Utah taxpayer has to pay for the mistakes of incompetent state officials? I realize Maryland is a corrupt den of thieves, but that doesn't mean we have to be here. This was a step in the direction of injustice, but I'm not surprised you'd be in favor, given your home state.

  • justamacguy Manti, UT
    July 20, 2013 4:23 p.m.

    I got a mosquito bite... Now who is going to pay for that? There were no mosquito warning signs and these are mosquitos that have been aggressive in the past. I'm suing!!!

  • Ann Amberly Greenbelt, MD
    July 20, 2013 2:48 p.m.

    I am so happy for this verdict. I have literally been praying for this boy's family ever since his death occurred. They should absolutely have been warned, and there is no excuse that they were not. I am so happy to see justice done!

  • killpack Sandy, UT
    July 20, 2013 12:53 p.m.


    'This family will never never be the same again. It's an arrow in the heart they will need the money to live because they will be so broken it will be difficult to carry on a normal life.'

    You can't be serious. Almost $2 million to carry on a normal life? What?!?! Why stop shy of 2 million? Why not go for 200 million? This sue happy country is going down the toilet. And it's because people have no morals, like the family that decided to sue the TAXPAYERS of the State of Utah, who had nothing to do with this, when we are going broke. Oh well. I hope they can live a normal life, now that they made almost two million dollars off of the death of their own son.

  • OnlyInUtah Cottonwood Heights, UT
    July 20, 2013 11:59 a.m.

    Seriously people, do we need a sign to tell us that there are wild animals in the woods?

    Why do we assume that someone should have warned us about ANY impending danger? Accidents happen and they are tragic but when we try to relieve our pain by blaming others for not warning us we have done a disservice to everyone.

    I feel sorry for the family of this young man but a money-grabbing lawsuit doesn't solve any problems or ease any pains.

  • bullet56 Olympia, WA
    July 20, 2013 11:21 a.m.

    I feel badly for the loss of a son to this family. Here in WA state, we had a mountian goat gore a visitor to the National Park in the Olympics. The family sued the government for 15M and lost. I would hate to camp where it is understood that a bad bear has no fear of humans. I would also not want to hike or camp in places devoid of any species of animal. I take my risk when I hike and camp, don't send the chopper for me, don't kill the wildlife for me. Let me be in the hands of God, and enjoy his places at my own risk.

  • Scott1 Quiet Neighborhood, UT
    July 20, 2013 11:17 a.m.

    Just another example of the entitlement society that we live in. Personal responsibility is fading into the past.

    So the next time a similar incident occurs, the plaintiffs will say the sign posted in the campground was not big enough, or it wasn't posted soon enough, or the font was too small, or the message was confusing, or it should have been in more languages than English, or the wind was blowing a corner over so the sign wasn't fully visible. Or if the sign was fine, they will say that each person in the campground should have been been approached and told. And to those out hiking around their campground, a megaphone or loudspeaker should have been used to warn them. Or maybe a helicopter flyover with a megaphone should have been used. This is just a moneygrab using the strategy of going after the big pockets.

  • Brother Benjamin Franklin Orem, UT
    July 20, 2013 11:10 a.m.

    How dare some commenters insinuate I am blaming victims! I am not blaming anybody--I am asking people to stop blaming others and allow themselves to heal from tragedy.

    The DWR was not negligent. The law states what they had the responsibility to do, but people are so emotionally blind and ignorant of the law's true context that they refuse to see this!

    But isn't it SOOO convenient to just lay blame when something awful happens? It isn't enough to educate, to put our tax dollars toward prevention and allow neighbors and churches to take care of victims. We've got to humiliate everyone responsible in a court of law and make them suffer too!

    People need to stop blaming the state and take responsibility for their own actions, then forgive and move on. What do you expect the DWR to do, be able to just contact them and expect they will come at a moment's notice? Get your heads out of the sand and into the game!

    The state cannot do everything and be everywhere. Why is it that we have become a society that refuses to accept responsibility for our failures?

  • GiuseppeG Murray, Utah
    July 20, 2013 10:49 a.m.

    Negligence is not okay....repeat after me everybody....negligence is NOT okay. And if a tragedy results that could have been prevented except for the negligence....then negligent people and State agencies MUST be held accountable.

  • TaipeiModerate New Haven, CT
    July 20, 2013 10:26 a.m.

    I also think the collective psychology in Utah of blaiming "victims needed to know better/ take responsibility" is literally, truly immoral. This "blame the victim" viewpoint isn't limited to lawsuits. Legal academics have traced this line of thought to other Utah criminal justice trends, like blaming rape and spousal abuse victims in criminal cases.

    Utahns should be ashamed of this disgusting, immoral worldview.

  • TaipeiModerate New Haven, CT
    July 20, 2013 10:21 a.m.

    I think those irresponsibly suggesting the state should be absolved from responsibility don't understand that deterrence is a significant purpose in allowing these damages. The state was in the best position to protect and didn't, and the damages serve as a future deterrent. If the court had ruled in favor of the state, they wouldn't have an incentive to take better precautions.

    Also, I think the argument that lawsuits shouldn't be allowed because it is "whats wrong with the country" is insipid and polyanish. This argument is the same as saying "murderers shouldn't be punished because the high crime rate is what is wrong with this country."

  • ZorroPC Park City, UT
    July 20, 2013 10:02 a.m.

    Normally I would agree with the folks, saying the state was not responsible as you assume risk by being in nature. But since there had already been an attack and a the state knew the bear was on the loose, not providing people a warning was negligent on the part of the state there should be a penalty, and the responsible parties who failed to provide the warning should be fired as well.

  • Brother Benjamin Franklin Orem, UT
    July 20, 2013 9:09 a.m.

    To those who make the argument that wrongful death lawsuits prevent future instances:

    They do not. Wrongful death lawsuits are brought about by people who are often looking for someone to blame for an awful tragedy. They won't accept the fact that it was a simple accident and let themselves move on. To them, there is no justice unless "someone pays for what happened."

    What happened that made our society so dead set on seeking revenge and not being satisfied until we make others suffer as much as we do? We wonder why there are so many lawsuits, divorces, estrangements, crime, and dysfunction in society. It is for these very reasons.

    The state of Utah was not responsible for this boy's death. We can second guess until we are blue in the face, but fighting this out in court has led to this result: nobody winning.

    I can only hope we learn something from this. We must not make mistakes here, and I fear this decision was based more on appeasing this family's emotional loss than it was on what the law actually states.

  • mercy Sandy, UT
    July 20, 2013 8:53 a.m.

    To the man in the middle maybe someone will take some responsibility for making sure this does not happen again. This family will never never be the same again. It's an arrow in the heart they will need the money to live because they will be so broken it will be difficult to carry on a normal life. The parents and grandparents will always think about what happened in the last minutes of this little boys life. They deserve every penny they get. To the family of this little boy I am so sorry and your son and grandson was so cute and it must have put you in a place no one should have to be. I will pray you can find meaning through this event. Do something so it will never happen again to anyone. All my love Sandy B

  • sjc layton, UT
    July 20, 2013 7:57 a.m.

    Just a money grab.

  • kim c DFW, TX
    July 20, 2013 7:25 a.m.

    I agree that no amount of money would bring this family's child back, but if I felt like someone's actions or lack of actions reasonably caused my loved one's death, I would pursue a wrongful death lawsuit. It wouldn't be about the money, but about trying to prevent it from happening to someone else. If the son had been killed by the bear and there hadn't been any previous issue, then I don't think anyone could have reasonably been held accountable. Bears are always a possible threat. However, there was a previous issue, enough of one to justify actively looking for the bear with the purpose of killing it. I think they should have put a sign at the campsite as well as told all the campers in the park about the bear and let them decide whether to remain or not. Yes, wildlife is a part of camping, but when people who have authority over the park know that there is a clear and present danger, they have a duty to let everyone know so they can make an informed decision. The family deserves answers when it could have been prevented.

  • TheOfficalCall Spanish Fork, UT
    July 20, 2013 7:13 a.m.

    I offciate/umpire girls fastpitch softball, I recently noticed at a complex I did some gamespeopole at there was a sign warning people that softball do on occasion leave the playing field, enter at your own risk. With a sign like this cities I am sure releive themselves of much of the liability regarding a fan being hit by an airant foul ball. I have seen a lot of people hit by foul balls.

    There is also the sign No Dogs Allowed, but I still see lots of dogs at parks and I think "The City" is still liable for suit when somene is biten by one of these dogs, as they never police the issue by having dogs removed.

    Two signs, one I feel releaves the city the other no so much.

    If I were to see a sign at a camp ground posted by USFS or DWRS stating "KNOWN DANEROUS BEAR IN AREA", I think I would move on, atleast a good 5 miles, but that is just me.

    But if if I see a sign in the forest posted

  • RShackleford Saint George, UT
    July 20, 2013 7:12 a.m.

    I hope this sends a clear message to the DWR and others that want to second guess those like the scout leader that killed the bear at a scout camp a couple of weeks ago. When a bear (or mountain lion). becomes this familiar with humans, humans become a competitor for the available food sources in the region. The State Experts know this, yet they did not take care of the problem and a boy died. I'm glad the scout leader took out that bear before waiting for DWR "Experts" to access the problem after a tenderfoot became a meal for a bear at that scout camp.

  • K Mchenry, IL
    July 20, 2013 7:01 a.m.

    The only way to contain wildlife is to close the campsites. If you camp, you are vulnerable to critters.

  • IdahoStranger NEWDALE, ID
    July 20, 2013 6:23 a.m.

    Yes, SOME STATE EMPLOYEES were negligent in their duties. And Yes, MONEY will not fix the wrong nor make the family feel better. And Yes, the TAXPAYERS will be robbed once again.

    If some negligent person goes to work for government, then our current system makes all of us financially responsible for his negligence. What has happened to the negligent employees?
    Were they reprimanded, demoted or fired? Did they come to the family and apologize and ask for forgiveness?

    Somebody has gotten rich off of this case over the past six years. Can we guess who?

    The quotations of the legal leaches are simply pathetic. On both sides. Neither address the real problem - the lack of individual responsibility of SOME STATE EMPLOYEES to exercise a love and concern for their fellow man. What about the individual responsibility of the supervisors of those employees? What have they done?

    We have a legal system but we DO NOT HAVE a justice system. And the money continues to flow from the taxpayers to whoever and the problems are never fixed. Six years indeed!

  • Gosh-DUH Burlington, CT
    July 20, 2013 5:51 a.m.

    This story is tragic on many levels, especially because the death was preventable. Sorry for the loss of this family’s son. Unfortunately the boy and his family violated a basic principle of camping in bear country. Bears go after food. Keeping food in a tent where you are sleeping underscores the ignorance demonstrated by this family and others who go camping without following basic common sense guidelines. The DN article states: a granola bar wrapper and soda can were found in his tent. Never ever store food, wrappers, containers, even toothpaste, in a tent. Either keep food and other bear appetizers in storage containers in a vehicle or hang the foodstuffs from a rope between trees or branches that cannot handle the weight of a bear. I agree with the dissenting opinion of Justices Parrish and Lee that bears and other indigenous wildlife are a natural condition of Utah’s public lands. Those who don't want to deal with wildlife should camp in their houses.

  • Brother Benjamin Franklin Orem, UT
    July 20, 2013 3:49 a.m.

    My heart and condolences go out to this family. I am so sorry for their loss.

    Nevertheless, I disagree with the Court's decision. I do not believe the State was liable in this case and feel this was incorrect. It saddens me because I think it is likely the family would have kept appealing it until they got a judgment in their favor.

    This family will likely receive some money from this, but it will not make the pain go away nor bring this boy back. There is no amount of money that can make something like this ever go away.

  • AZJazzFan Gold Canyon, az
    July 20, 2013 1:19 a.m.

    Yes, very tragic. But who is really gaining in this? It is the ambulance chaser(s). The lawyers win every time, they are undefeated. So, the family gets some new cars and a mansion for a home, is that appropriate? It remains tragic and I don't think being rewarded for their loss is appropriate. There are better uses for this money, increase funding for the forest service, increase level of technology to keep the bears safe and public safe, for example.

    July 19, 2013 11:26 p.m.

    While I don't agree with the Utah Supreme Court ruling, I do think the DWR policies should be improved.

    From the original 2007 article -

    "Although DWR posts signs at campgrounds - including Timpooneke - and trailheads in bear country, it has no protocol to verbally warn campers of bear sightings, or even confrontations, said Jim Karpowitz, director of DWR."

    I do think that is a mistake, but is it possible to find and warn ALL campers? Maybe not, but certainly you can look at bear behavior and warn those where the bear was seen before. Perhaps even close that one campground until the DWR is certain the situation is resolved?

  • higv Dietrich, ID
    July 19, 2013 10:44 p.m.

    Tragic what happened to family. Most people do know bears are there and there are danger. Is any amount of Money going to bring the kid back? I would not say lawsuit is right answer though that is a tragedy no one wants to deal with.

  • Flashback Kearns, UT
    July 19, 2013 9:53 p.m.

    All the Fish Cops had to do was post a sign and warn them that a bear was in the area. Immunity preserved. At that point, they would be camping at their own risk.

  • OnlyInUtah Cottonwood Heights, UT
    July 19, 2013 9:03 p.m.

    The state better start putting up signs on every intersection and cross walk warning pedestrians they should stay out of the road. For crying out loud, when you go camping in the mountains you should be smart enough to know that there is a danger of running into wildlife. This case will ruin it for everyone that wants to go into the wild.. we will now need permits, and releases to even get a campground.

    Yes this was tragic but the lawsuit was ridiculous and over the top.

  • ManInTheMiddle SANDY, UT
    July 19, 2013 8:42 p.m.

    Like money is going to solve the family's problems. The family is seeking solace in the wrong place. My tax dollars aren't going to make you feel any better.

  • SLC BYU Fan Salt Lake City, UT
    July 19, 2013 7:42 p.m.

    It appears that a highly divided Utah Supreme Court has hung out a sign in front of every State District Court that "Ambulance Chasing is Welcome in Utah."

  • Aggielove Cache county, USA
    July 19, 2013 7:30 p.m.

    The government nor the state should pay money to this family. Souls there be signs up, yes. But lawsuits are what is destroying this country. And I hate the state and Feds. But money doesn't make this horrible situation change. I hunt, and I know bear issues. I hunt bears 6 months out of the year.

  • The Rock Federal Way, WA
    July 19, 2013 7:06 p.m.

    I fail to understand how anyone in their right mind would keep a campground open and not warn anyone that a bear was in the area and was an imminent threat to human life. If a private campground had done this the owner would find himself in jail and for good reason.

    It sounds like the lower court judge had no judgment. Fortunately the Supreme Court Justices do have good judgement in this case.

  • Aggielove Cache county, USA
    July 19, 2013 6:28 p.m.

    Very sad story. But, this is a slippery slope.

  • MealyMouth Alpine, UT
    July 19, 2013 5:48 p.m.

    I just want to say that I'm so relieved. This has been a long case and I've never forgotten the Ives family and their son/ grandson. THIS COULD HAVE BEEN ANY OF OUR SONS. Because of this ruling, I feel like we might now be safer up our canyon, because we should be warned when a bear has been aggressive in the area. Period. That's all the Ives were trying to have happen. I pray their family can heal from this horrible, horrible tragedy. We have not forgotten Sam. Bless you.