I am going to pull up some comments from the entry on the death of James J. Kilpatrick, in which I mentioned his article about my lawsuit against the Columbus Metropolitan Library.
In Kilpatrick’s article, he mentions the child who was hurt by a staple on the library floor, but not on the child’s foot, but on his arm (lying there during storytime). “vas” then asked:
Bob, do you know if the child’s parents sued the library over this scratch?
My answer was, no, the child’s parents did not sue the library. In fact, I really did not find any lawsuits for injuries against the library. Their fear of lawsuits was strictly theoretical.
“vas” then further asked:
Then what made the library expect a lawsuit for a hypothetical barefoot injury? And why did they not issue a “no bare arms” or “no lying on the floor” rules? Or did they?
Why would the library expect a lawsuit for a hypothetical barefoot injury? That’s a good question.
I suspect the answer is a combination of ignorance and arrogance. (And no, they did not have any rules about kids lying or crawling or playing on their floors.)
The ignorance part we are all familiar with. Those who do not go barefoot regularly are absolutely convinced that the world is littered with a minefield of dangers. We barefooters know differently. There is also this myth that people sue at the drop of a hat, and even that is pretty much a myth. The reason that the silly lawsuits make the news is simply because it is news, not an everyday occurrence.
So that leads us to arrogance. Think about it. You are the director of some large organization. You got there with a lot of hard work. You’ve proven that you are “better” than others by rising to that position. How dare anybody question your decisions?
You think you can make the rules, so you do make the rules.
I did make quite a few attempts to educate the director of the library. They were all rebuffed. He just knew that there should not be bare feet in libraries. Arrogance.
I don’t think he even knew why there shouldn’t be bare feet in libraries, except a casual acceptance of the “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service” signs.
Near the end of our correspondences, the director sent a letter to the library’s legal counsel, asking what legal basis they could use to maintain their shoe rule:
This gentleman has not taken “no” for an answer for about a year now. (Please reference the attached Security Incident Report and January 19th letter to the President of the Board of Trustees). Would you please draft a response for our Board President’s signature which includes the legal reasons that CML can give for requiring its customers to dress appropriately for a public place?
We see here why the director wants the shoe rule: it is inappropriate dress in his eyes. Why that should be a library’s concern is beyond me—their concern is supposed to be making library materials available to their patrons, not being the fashion police.
But it went further . . .
Later, during the lawsuit, the director filed an affidavit. In it, under oath, he stated:
I approved the procedure requiring that patrons wear shoes to protect the health and safety of Library patrons, who may be harmed in the Library if allowed to enter barefoot.
I also approved the procedure requiring that patrons wear shoes to protect the economic well-being of the Library, by averting tort claims and litigation expenses stemming from potential claims made by barefoot patrons who could have suffered injuries that shoes could have prevented.
We already know that that is not the truth. My strong suspicion is that that is what his lawyers told him to say to provide support for the library’s defense.
By the way, lying under oath is called perjury. The courts seemed remarkably unconcerned when I pointed that out.