Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Suggesting the "Leave No Child Inside" Legal Defense Fund

I've been reading and hearing about Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods and promoter of the Children and Nature Network, an organization that attempts to restore the lost connection between children and the outdoors.

One factor in this lost connection is the fear of liability should something go wrong. Part of that fear is overblown, but regardless, it's there.

I don't know if Louv has a solution to this problem, but I've got an idea that I think would help - set up a legal foundation that pays the legal defense costs of institutions and individuals who brought children outdoors and then were hit with frivolous lawsuits.

Obviously, regardless of how successful this idea could become, it will never cover all the costs of defending against all the frivolous lawsuits. Still it could help, and just the fact that a defendant knew it was possible to recover costs might make the defendant less likely to settle.

When it first starts functioning, it picks the cream of the crop - those who defended against the most frivolous of claims, and against the claims that would have established the worst precedents or had the worst potential impact. It could also assist only defendants who have already won their case, so the foundation doesn't have to do any legal work itself - it just pays all or part of defendant's legal costs afterwards. It only assists defendants who didn't settle the case. I also expect that businesses that support the outdoors would be interested in funding the foundation.

I'll just toss this idea out into the Googleable universe, with the additional mention that I'd be willing to put in some of my own money or time as a lawyer if the idea goes anywhere.

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