posted by dpm on 03/31/2014
“I never thought it could happen to me,” is something that Jonathan Stock might say. He’s suing the city after rupturing his Achilles in a fall from a boulder in a Manhattan city park.
The New York man was out for a walk with friends in the Hudson River Park when they came across a selection of large stones by the river’s edge. The “sculpture installation” is known as Stonefield according to the landscaping company that helped with the design. “Large stones were chosen from quarries in New York State and the northeast corner of Pennsylvania,” they said on their website. “They were selected for their special shapes and unusual sculptural qualities. Some are very colorful, some are concave, some craggy, one is very tall, another shaped somewhat like a boat. Each is special. They are arranged to show their unique characteristics and individuality.”
According to the New York Post, Mr. Stock claims that the very tall one had a dark side and was “begging to be climbed.” “Just because I’m an adult doesn’t mean I don’t get to explore the world, too,” he said to the Post. Stock ran and jumped on the boulder, fell off, and ruptured his Achilles which resulted in surgery and three weeks of housebound recovery.
In this police lineup of the suspects, Stock pointed to the largest boulder and, according to a fictitious source, said, “That’s the one that did this to me.” Photo: Permaloc.com
Mr. Stock told the Post that the rocks “created a dangerous condition” and he’s suing the city. Stock’s lawyer claims that the city was negligent for not posting signs that warn of the rock’s dangers. “You can’t just put a bunch of rocks out like a minefield and expect innocent bystanders to pick their way through without injury,” is something Mr. Stock and his lawyer might be thinking.
“Did the city even run background checks on these boulders before placing them in a populated area?” Stock and his lawyer possibly speculated. “This isn’t the big rock’s first incident. I heard that before the rock was moved here that a little kid skinned his shin on it. That should have been a clear warning of its potential danger.”
Stock and his lawyer raise some good points about the inherent risk of rock/human interaction. While a rock IS an inanimate object, it does hold a certain level of accountability in these interactions. What can be done to prevent rocks from hurting humans in the future? Some are calling for the sharp edges to be sanded down while others think that somehow “softening the surface” might be helpful.
“Rocks are hard and they won’t move out of the way,” said one fictitious source. “If you’re riding toward one on your bike or jumping on it, it just sits there, deviously waiting to hurt you!”
Rocks are also known for their sometimes tall height, a height that can be dangerous or deadly to fall from. El Capitan is one famous rock that exceeds 3000 feet in height. A fall from the top is certainly fatal. “Some people have fallen off of El Cap and died,” said the same fictitious source. “Some people have even jumped from the top to commit suicide and that bastard stone did nothing to prevent them.”
“It’s a big problem,” said another fictitious source. “It’s now up to the city and the lawyers to figure out how best to prosecute this rock for its malicious behavior. It will not be tolerated.”
Author’s note: This article is satirical and ridiculous. Stock and his lawyer are, in my opinion, a couple of loons that are attempting to weaken the legal precedent that people are accountable for their actions. Continuing down this slippery slope could have disastrous consequences for climbing on public lands. Sam Lightner addressed this very issue of “challenging the precedent” in his excellent article “The Perfect Storm” in Issue 27. Please take the time to read it for an understanding of the dangerous effects that lawsuits like this can have on climbing. Click the image below to read the article.