May 18, 2010

Higher than Your Average Bear!

"I'm smarter than your average bear!"

—Yogi Bear

Unfortunately for Bryce Hopkins, instead of smarter, he opted for higher than the average bear.  Hopkins was employed at a private bear park in Montana, where black bears and grizzly bears were kept as a tourist attraction.  One day, Hopkins decided to smoke a little marijuana before work.  Hopkins' work duties that day included feeding the bears, and at some point, he was mauled by one of the hungry animals.  Who knows, maybe the grizzly had the munchies?  Or maybe the bear thought Hopkins was holding back the good stash?

Earlier this month, a Montana workers' compensation court judge found Hopkins was eligible for benefits, as his drug use did not appear to have materially contributed to the bear attack.  However, the judge was less than impressed both with the employer's attempts to avoid liability and with Hopkins' lack of common sense:

Although Hopkins admitted to smoking marijuana before arriving at work on the morning of the attack, I cannot conclude based on the evidence before me that the major contributing cause of the grizzly bear attack was anything other than the grizzly. It is not as if this attack occurred when Hopkins inexplicably wandered into the grizzly pen while searching for the nearest White Castle. Hopkins was attacked while performing a job Kilpatrick had paid him to do — feeding grizzly bears. The fact that the grizzly attacked Hopkins while he was performing this job is not exactly a "man bites dog" event. When a grizzly bear is sighted on a trail in Glacier National Park, the trail is closed to all hikers, not just the hikers who may have recently smoked marijuana. Kilpatrick installed multiple electrified fence lines at the bear park to separate the grizzly bears from all customers, not just the customers who may have recently smoked marijuana. When it comes to attacking humans, grizzlies are equal opportunity maulers; attacking without regard to race, creed, ethnicity, or marijuana usage. Hopkins' use of marijuana to kick off a day of working around grizzly bears was ill-advised to say the least and mind-bogglingly stupid to say the most. However, I have been presented with no evidence by which I can conclude that Hopkins' marijuana use was the major contributing cause of the grizzly bear attack.

Obviously Hopkins failed to learn an important lesson from Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle—when you're high, you hang with cheetahs.

1 comment:

  1. I think you would have to have a good sense of humor to deal with the daily grind as an ALJ. This one surely does. And good taste in movies to boot.