If you're not paying attention, everything's a hazard

The SE Texas Record Jul. 17, 2010, 8:47am

It used to be that a person who tripped and fell would look around anxiously to see if anyone had noticed, for looking foolish was likely to be the gravest consequence, and a temporary ego deflation the only injury.

Confirming the absence of spectators to delight in one's clumsiness provided abundant relief. The stumbler rose happily and soon forgot the minor scrapes and bruises.

But today every pratfall represents the potential for profit if a target can be identified to blame for the mishap. The klutz may have been drunk, distracted, or coordination challenged. Still, it wasn't the fault of the klutz. Rather than hide the shame, the klutz flaunts it, telling the whole world about the foolish act that might turn a profit.

An open manhole, a loose balcony railing, a frayed bungee jump-cord – those are genuine hazards that could cause serious injury and justify a lawsuit. But a concrete parking block in a customer parking lot? How can something that's supposed to be there constitute a hazard?

Linda Conklin of Groves didn't fall through a manhole or off a balcony. Nor did she snap a bungee cord. She tripped over a parking block in a customer parking lot in July of 2008 when she went to pay her cable bill.

Now, two years later, Conklin is suing Time Warner Cable in Jefferson County District Court, seeking restitution for injuries she allegedly suffered. She claims the cable company was negligent in failing to protect the public from passive-aggressive parking blocks.

Conklin is represented by Brent Coon and Associates of Beaumont, a firm not so preoccupied with the Big Petroleum (BP) Bonanza that it can resist a small-potatoes claim like this one.

Linda Conklin may not have a case against Time Warner. But she does present a good argument for paying one's bills electronically or by mail – and for not drawing attention to foolishness that unfortunately has tumbled into a court of law where important matters are supposed to be decided.

More News