Letters to the editor on damages cap, Pawnee Prairie Park, feral cats

10/15/2012 12:00 AM

10/12/2012 5:53 PM

Where can victims turn for justice?

Through the Kansas Supreme Court’s recent 62-page majority opinion upholding a $250,000 cap on pain, suffering, disfigurement and disability – as well as the extensive media coverage that followed – the true significance of the court’s opinion has been lost.

The businesses, medical associations and insurance companies that originally lobbied for the caps were keenly aware of the strategy they employed – make it about the cost of medical care. But these caps – which work to the great detriment of citizens who sustain horrendous, life-altering injuries – also greatly benefit large businesses and insurance companies that have nothing to do with providing medical care.

Our state’s founding fathers envisioned a legal adversarial process in which injured victims could look across the table at the responsible party and have their grievances fully decided by a jury composed of fellow citizens. Our juries can still do that now, but thanks to our Legislature and the businesses that influenced it, the jury’s award is stripped away with the bang of a gavel if it surpasses an artificial ceiling.

As a lawyer who pursues cases on behalf of injured victims, I am acutely familiar with the defense that “bad things happen to good people, but it’s nobody’s fault.” This is even true sometimes.

But when it’s not, who should pay the price? The child in a wheelchair? The father of six who is on a respirator? Or the insurance company that collects hefty premiums to indemnify these tragic losses?



Pocket of nature

I was upset when I heard about the strike at Bombardier Learjet. It seemed wrong that Machinists union members, with good pay and good insurance, were complaining.

Then my daughter and I stopped at the Pawnee Prairie Park walking trails on Tyler Road. We began walking on the trails. The air was cool and smelled of pine trees and other plants. We suddenly spotted a young doe. She was eating and then noticed us. She slowly bounded away. We continued walking, around this bend, around that bend, and there was the doe again. Or maybe it was another doe. But she was no more than 20 feet from us. She stopped and just looked at us for a while. Then, without any sign of fear, she bounded across our trail and into the tall grass.

How could I stay upset at anyone when we were blessed with such a wondrous place? It was almost magical and was filled with the peace of the wild animals, the green and reds of the leaves of the trees and thickets, the wonderful odor of Mother Earth.

It doesn’t have to be miles of wilderness – just a little pocket of nature is enough to thrill our soul and bring peace and joy to the end of our day.



Trap, neuter

National Feral Cat Day is Tuesday. Friends of Felines assists caregivers to get their cats trapped, neutered and returned to them. TNR is the only proven method of controlling the population of feral cats long term.

Data from 30 colonies we have worked with bears this out. The total number of cats when folks started feeding was 181. When TNR was done generally two years later, 311 cats were fixed. There were 20 cats untrapped. Some kittens were born to those cats, but only 23 have survived and most have been fixed. Only 13 new cats came to live in these colonies; 10 are fixed. The increase in population because of kittens born and newcomers was less than 12 percent, and yet the numbers still decreased. Today the total number of cats is 236.

So before TNR was started, there was a 40 percent increase in the population in about two years. By the average of four years after TNR, the population decreased by 24 percent.

TNR works where trap and kill policies don’t. Support the humane alternative – TNR.



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