A kind student alerted me to this article in the Guardian the other day, about an unfortunate accident that happened at Scienceworks in Melbourne recently. Mr Dean Smith, on a family outing to the interactive Science museum, decided to take part in the Cathy Freeman exhibit. This exhibit lights up with pictures of Cathy Freeman at a speed that replicates her actual running speed and people can run alongside those pictures on a track set up for that purpose. Mr Smith did exactly that and unfortunately, got so caught up in the excitement that he failed to notice the wall at the end of the track. He ran straight into it, receiving some very unfunny injuries. "No one wants to run flat out and put their head into a wall," he said in the article and it's kind of hard to argue with him on that point.
Smith is alleging that Scienceworks were "negligent because they failed to provide adequate room to run and stop, failed to supply padding to prevent injury, failed to provide sufficient lighting in order to see the wall, supplied a track with a wall at the end of it and failed to warn Mr Smith the wall was there". I guess the ultimate question here is, was it reasonable to think that someone would get so caught up unleashing their inner Marie-Jose Perec to the extent that they would not notice AN ACTUAL WALL at the end of the track, poor lighting or not.
And unleash his inner Perec he did. "All these little things made me think I could beat her", said Mr Smith, without going on to mention exactly what those little things were. I wonder what they could possibly be? Not, I suspect, the fact that she's got an Olympic Gold Medal whereas he, presumably, does not. Also probably not the fact that she is the sixth fastest woman in the world. And almost certainly not the fact that she has run the 400m in less than 50 seconds. But I'm just guessing here.
The lawyer representing him* was quoted as saying "The lack of duty of care on the part of Scienceworks has led to these significant injuries". I'm not sure that it's super helpful for his lawyer to argue that the lack of a duty of care led to these injuries. What he's effectively saying is that it's the absence of a duty of care that has created the necessary causal relationship between the act (which by his definition is non-negligent because there's no duty) AND the injuries? You might want to avoid running that line in court, buddy. Boom.
Of course, running into a wall doesn't always have to end badly
*Fun fact: The name of the law firm representing Dean Smith is Arnold Thomas and Becker. Arnold T. Becker. Arnie Becker. Those of use who went to Law School in the 1980's and worshipped the fictional Californian ground that Gracie van Owen walked on know a L.A. Law reference when we see one. Nice work, Arnold Thomas & Becker. Nice work.