Senior Smart Aleck
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Richmond, Virginia
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Re: HMS Bounty in trouble...
The concept you are discussing is known in the law as "proximate cause" - whether there is a legally recognized causal connection between the breach of a duty and the damages caused.
What you fail to realize is that the captain is responsible for the reasonably foreseeable consequences of his inexcusable decision to set sail toward the likely path of a hurricane.
There exists the unlikely possibility that some superseding, intervening cause resulted in the death of this young woman. For instance, if she died from food poisoning on board and just happened to stumble overboard just as the ship was sinking, or if the Navy accidentally bombed the ship as part of aerial bombing practice, then the captain's asinine decision to take to sea may not have been the proximate cause of her death. There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever supporting a superseding, intervening cause of death.
On the other hand, if she died because the ship lost a plank or the bilge pumps failed or the engine failed or she was hit by a loose life raft on deck, those would all be events that inexorably follow from the failure of the captain to exercise prudence in his decision-making. It is reasonably foreseeable, in fact likely, that mechanical failure during a storm on that ship would result in a sinking an a loss of life, even though such mechanical failure in calm conditions would cause no permanent harm. It is reasonably foreseeable that a ship like the Bounty might founder and capsize in gale or hurricane conditions, so the captain who put the ship in that position will be held responsible for all consequences not due to a superseding cause.
People are responsible for the reasonably foreseeable consequences of their failure to live up to their duties as reasonably prudent people, in this case, a reasonably prudent professional captain. A reasonably prudent professional captain of a ship like the Bounty does not set sail in the face of an impending, unpredictable hurricane. The estate of "Captain Hurricane Chaser/"There is no such thing as bad weather" and everyone responsible for employing someone with knowledge of his apparent lack of judgment will now be responsible for all reasonably foreseeable consequences of his negligence, including the death of this woman. That seems perfectly fair and just to me.
Some of you apparently do not embrace that concept. Some on this listserv refuse to accept the responsibilities of a ship's captain. Your passengers and crew do not assume the risk of your faulty decision-making just because taking to sea is risky venture. When you assume responsibility for other's lives by commanding a boat, you are required to be PRUDENT - which means wise, judicious, careful, cautious and discreet. You have no legal right to gamble, play the odds, and take risks with other's lives at stake. If you do not like that legal liability, then sail solo and do not summon rescue forces
There is no rush to judgment. No further investigation will ever portray this captain as wise, careful or cautious, given what we already know about his decision-making in the circumstances. We are not required to search for a superceding cause to exonerate him. This is very simple: he put the boat in harm's way and harm resulted.