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Kauai’s Kipu Falls Closed to the Public

Grove Farm, owner of the property, has closed access to the  popular waterfall area.  In the past 5 years, there have been five deaths of visitors to the falls.  In addition, Grove Farm faces several lawsuits stemming from these accidents.  There has been a tour that that included a stop at Kipu Falls and that was the only “legal” access to the area.  Whether this tour will now be discontinued was not mentioned.

So, to the dismay of many locals who have used the pool below the falls for swimming for years, Grove Farm announced it is installing a metal fence and denying further access to the public.  While the property has always been posted with “No Trespassing” signs, neither the public nor Grove Farm has stopped using it.

Reports indicate that the majority of the five people who died, were killed after jumping from the top of the falls into the pool below and drowned while swimming back to shore.  While on the one hand, I do not want to seem insensitive to their family’s loss, I also don’t feel it is appropriate to file a lawsuit against Grove Farm for their deaths.

You know, it wasn’t all that long ago when the “common sense” defense would have kept many of these types of lawsuits from ever going to court.  Have you noticed that more and more, common sense seems to be vanishing?   When was it decided that we should not be held accountable for our own mistakes and poor judgement?

Personally, I think the fall down this slippery slope all began with the McDonald’s hot coffee decision.  You know, the case where the lady spilled hot coffee on herself and then won a lawsuit against McDonald’s for selling her the coffee!   Now, it would be one thing to say that she was burned because the lid was not put on properly…I have run across that myself, but this was a case of the coffee being “hot”.

That also explains why you can’t buy a cup of coffee these days without warnings all over the cup letting you know, “Warning: Contents Hot!”  I’m sure warnings were printed on products long before that incident, but I swear some of the warnings are a matter of erring on the side of stupidity.  (Do not use an electric hair-dryer while taking a shower!  Really???)

This whole situation has also brought the question of liability to those who write guidebooks and what their role might be when advertising and/or promoting dangerous sites.  There are a few guidebooks on Hawaii that consistently point out ways to get around No Trespassing signs and fences.  While in general, I think it would be difficult to hold guidebook authors liable for doing their job, which is pointing out places to see and go, I do think that they go too far when they start to encourage people to ignore trespassing signs and safety concerns.

As an author of this blog and a website, it is my conscious decision not to promote any activity that may be dangerous.  Most of my posts include a warning/caution regarding sunscreen, sunglasses, hats, and water.  I also indicate whether or not there are normally currents that make a particular location a poor choice for swimming.  And, where applicable, also indicate that some beaches are seasonally affected by wave heights and that in all conditions, to use your best judgement in deciding whether you should go swimming or not.

Of course, I know I could get myself in trouble assuming that people have “good judgement” to use and that their judgement is sufficient to make the right choice.  In any event, I believe that everyone must ultimately be responsible for making their own decisions.   I have commented before, that I have seen people blatantly ignore warning signs at the Volcanoes National Park and venture beyond the barriers at Halemaumau Crater to stand on what was obviously a fractured portion of the rim.   I think they would have received very little sympathy from anyone around if that section had broken off and they had fallen in.

Fare Buzz

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