05/25/2007

Josh Hancock

Since we covered the sad, untimely death of ex-Red Josh Hancock, I felt we should also cover this.

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 death of Josh Hancock was a tragedy. I feel for his father’s pain. I can’t imagine what it would be like to lose your child. But the fact that he is trying to cash in on it is appalling to me.

It is another example of the seemingly-widespread belief in today’s society that when something bad happens, it’s always someone else’s fault and since it happened to me, I should be given the opportunity to spin the wheel and win a lot of money. It’s like his father feels it’s his turn to cash in, no matter what happened, no matter who is truly at fault.

No one forced Josh Hancock to drink that night. No one forced him to get behind the wheel of his truck, talk on his cell phone, or probably smoke pot (as it was found in his truck).

Where is Josh Hancock’s personal responsibility for what happened? Should someone be able to sue his family because his parents apparently didn’t teach him the importance of personal responsibility?

Has Mr. Hancock considered the fact that more people could have died that night? That his son could have killed the tow truck driver, who was just out doing his job when his truck was hit by Hancock? Or he could have killed the driver of the car being towed?

No, it appears to me that Mr. Hancock sees the chance to sue someone who he believes has deep pockets and that will pay him off, whether they were to blame or not.

And you know what?

He might be right, sometimes insurance companies do that…it’s often cheaper than going to court. But in the long run, we all end up footing the bill when they don’t fight these type of suits in higher costs for things we buy and higher insurance rates for ourselves.

One of the biggest changes in our country in the last 50 years, in my opinion, is the loss of the feeling of personal responsibility. Everyone is always looking to blame someone else…and then they can spin that wheel and play for the really big money.

I’ve been a Reds fan since the late ’60’s, with my luck of being able to attend plenty of games at Riverfront during the BRM era. I was sitting in the Green Seats in the OF when Pete came home in ’84 and was in the Red seats when Glenn Braggs reached over the fence in ’90 to beat the Pirates. I have had many favorites from Jim Maloney to Johnny Bench, Barry Larkin, Adam Dunn, and Jay Bruce.

Join the conversation! 18 Comments

  1. I have no idea what Mr. Hancock is going through. Are you sure his intent is to cash in and not just a misguided response over his son’s death?

  2. I’m not sure of anything, but it sure appears to me to be a cash grab, since he is suing everyone that he can, other than MLB and the Cardinals (even though there have been reports that he was drinking in the clubhouse the night of the accident).

    I find the lawsuit appalling, as I said.

  3. I’m not sure of anything, but it sure appears…

    Perhaps you should edit your comment then.

    But the fact that he is trying to cash in on it …

  4. Why should I edit my comment?

    My opinion isn’t valid?

    If I’m writing it, it’s what I believe.

    I don’t KNOW his reasoning, but he is suing, so there is cash involved.

  5. It’s unusual that he filed suit so quickly – the statute of limitations is most likely a year, at the least (NOT LEGAL ADVICE!!!!) .

    A rush like that can indicate emotion, rather than reason, is driving this suit. The whole thing is sad for everyone involved, but I particularly feel for the guy whose car stalled, got plowed into, and is now being sued by the father of the guy responsible.

    Thankfully, I don’t do much motor vehicle work, but I don’t think the Hancock family has a very strong case here – especially against the driver and tow truck man.

  6. I agree with Bill. I’m sure the father is emotional, but that is no reason to run to a lawyer and start suing everyone. As sad as it is, the only person to blame for this tragedy is his son.

  7. There is a lengthy thread over at BBTF on this. Someone looked up the relevant Missouri statue and it seems that key word in the statue is involuntarily – as in defendants are responsible for getting Hancock drunk against his will. Good luck with proving that.

    I don’t blame Hancock’s family. They are working through the stages of grief and naturally want to blame Josh’s death on anything but their son’s own failings.

    But I do blame the attorneys for filing this monstrosity and not advising the Hancocks to step back and revisit these issues at a less emotional time. This is just the kind of filing that makes front page news and has all the wingnuts shouting for tort reform.

  8. statute…sigh

  9. I agree that the lawsuit is wrong and that blaming everyone else is also wrong.

    What I disagree with is stating opinion as fact, but perhaps I misread the original thread. The fourth sentence of the author’s commentary sounded to me like he is stating a fact that Mr. Hancock’s motivation is money:

    “But the fact that he (Josh Hancock’s father) is trying to cash in on it (his son’s death) is appalling to me.”

    especially when taken in context with comment #2 (& other comments by author stating that this is only his opinion)

    If that’s not how it was intended to read or I’ve read something into it that’s not there, you have my apologies.

  10. I don’t claim to know the motivation here, and while I agree that a lawsuit seems at the very least, emotionally based, there perhaps is some responsibility on the bar and bartenders part, at least legally. Many jurisdictions have statutes against serving customers who are visibly intoxicated or limiting how many drinks are consumed by customers in a certain amount of time. It may not be the most practical of laws to enforce, but practicality and legality are two entirely different things.

  11. “But the fact that he (Josh Hancock’s father) is trying to cash in on it (his son’s death) is appalling to me.”

    That also seems a little harsh to me as well. It’s difficult to judge someone’s motivations for any action, especially considering the severe emotional issues involved here, and with just this information given, I would prefer to think Mr. Hancock is just trying to seek out some justice and desires some sort of closure to a tragedy rather than assuming he is trying to profit from his son’s death.

  12. From a practical lawyer’s perspective, filing this soon is counter-productive (which is what makes me think it’s an emotional decision).

    When you’re dealing with insurance companies (as they are here), you can typically try to negotiate first, before suit. Why bother spending money on filing fees if you don’t need to (and force the insurance company to spend money on defense attorneys, when that money could be coming your way)? Plus, filing the suit “starts the clock,” meaning that you’re going to have to spend money on motions, discovery, etc. Many plaintiff’s lawyers will actually take a smaller percentage of the recovery if they can do so without filing the lawsuit.

  13. Josh was offered to have a cab called for him but he was going to yet another bar to meet an unknown person. The lawsuit is just plain crazy. Will more money bring Josh back. The poor guy had an alcohol/drug problem and i feel sorry for the poor soul who’s car stalled on the highway and the tow truck trying to help.

  14. From a practical lawyer’s perspective, filing this soon is counter-productive (which is what makes me think it’s an emotional decision).

    Chris,

    As an attorney, don’t you think that the Hancocks are getting bad legal advice? If they came to you, would you advise them to go this route? The above comment tends to indicate you would not.

    The Hancocks are lay people. Surely it’s the attorneys who have put this together and are playing the Hancocks’ emotional state for all it’s worth.

    Some excerpts from the filing have been posted in the BBTF thread. It would take a lawyer to craft that language. I doubt the Hancocks even knew it was possible to sue the driver of the Geo Prism.

    Please understand that I’m not trying to bash the legal profession. I have tremendous respect for the good lawyers. My niece is a PD in Chicago. It’s just that this has the smell of ambulance chasing about it.

  15. I would definitely advise them to hold off a while, while I tried to negotiate a settlement. That said, the client is the boss, as long as they’re not asking you to do something illegal or unethical. In this case, based on my knowledge of Missouri law (zero), I suspect the lawyer acted appropriately. You could always choose not to take the case, but it’s not like the family’s decision here is that unusual or (based on what I know), in any way improper.

    It’s just . . . rushed, and looks like an emotion-based decision.

    Just guessing what the facts were, I might’ve advised them to leave the GEO driver out of it (why hassle the guy for his $30k insurance limits, when he’s not morally culpable, and there are plenty of other deep pockets).

    Clients have all sorts of reasons for doing what they do, and they don’t always follow your advice. Sometimes, that puts you in positions you’d rather not be in – but that’s why you get paid the big bucks. Or, more sincerely, that’s why it is a “profession,” as opposed to “just a job” – you have a code you have to follow, whether you always like it or not.

    FWIW, I primarily represent defendants in civil cases, so I don’t have to deal with precisely the same questions the Hancock’s lawyer faces.

  16. It’s an insult to anyone ever victimized by a drunk driver that the Cardinals are honoring Josh Hancock by wearing a black number 32 on their uniforms. They should be wearing a MADD patch instead.

  17. It’s sad that anyone should be sued over the Hancock tragedy. Bartenders are just doing their job. It’s sad that there has to be laws limiting a customer’s consumption. What ever happened to personal responsibility? Should the parents be suing anybody or maybe they need to take a long look at their responsibility. A little intervention before this tragedy could have saved a life. As a parent, I would feel personally responsible if this were my child.

  18. It is sad to see that the father is so upset that he lost his son. But everyone that was with his son that night is as responsible as the bartender for over serving him. On the other had Celebs. He should not have been on the cell phone and who was he talk to that didn’t try to get him to pull the car over aren’t they just as responsible for not calling the police?

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About Bill Lack

I've been a Reds fan since the late '60's, with my luck of being able to attend plenty of games at Riverfront during the BRM era. I was sitting in the Green Seats in the OF when Pete came home in '84 and was in the Red seats when Glenn Braggs reached over the fence in '90 to beat the Pirates. I have had many favorites from Jim Maloney to Johnny Bench, Barry Larkin, Adam Dunn, and Jay Bruce.

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Baseball - General, Off-topic, Reds - General