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July 27, 2004 12:01 AM

Broken: Unnecessary lawsuit over glass door

Speaking of "transparent glass" being too transparent (see our June 29 post), a reader pointed us to this post on

The Colorado Civil Justice League, in its May 21 newsletter, reports: "The Loveland Reporter-Herald reports that a Broomfield family has sued a motel for keeping a sliding glass door too clean. The family is suing the owners of the Hobby Horse Motor Lodge after their then-8-year-old son ran through a sliding glass door at the motel because 'the glass was so transparent and clean that (he) erroneously, but understandably, assumed that the door had remained open,' according to the lawsuit."


Wouldn't there be a handle or something that he could have seen?

Posted by: Someone at July 27, 2004 03:05 PM

Doesn't matter -- I've attempted to walk through as much as a screen door on a couple of occasions (completely sober, mind you). If your focus is shifted beyond the portal (which would particularly be the case if you were running in an unfamiliar environment), it's difficult to pick up details like handles and screens. Panes through the centre of the door would generally be enough to break your visual momentum, I would imagine.

This suit is, of course, frivolous, but I still think designs of doors like these are something that should be kept in mind when putting together a business establishment.

Posted by: Gnu at July 27, 2004 04:29 PM

Why do people sue for stupid stuff these days?

Posted by: Chris at July 27, 2004 05:03 PM

I tend to agree with Gnu. The lawsuit is most definitely broken (and perhaps even the whole legal system that allows it, but that's another rant). However, I can't say so much about the glass door, considering that I've run into a number of them myself...

Posted by: codeman38 at July 27, 2004 07:07 PM

If your child ran through a glass door at a hotel room and needed to get stitches or something, wouldn't you want compensation too?

While I agree that it's a stupid idea to sue (too clean?! wtf?), I'd probably be inclined to do the same thing.

Posted by: never mind that at July 28, 2004 12:51 AM

Chris: because previous cases of suing for stupid things succeeded, thus setting a precident for getting lots of money for stupid things.

Posted by: Alden Bates at July 28, 2004 03:04 AM

To never mind that:

If you agree it's a stupid idea to sue, then why would you be inclined to do the same thing? As Alden Bates has noted, previous cases of suing successfully for stupid things seems to encourage a continuation of this beahviour. There also seems to be an undercurrent of entitlement for anything that befalls oneself.

Posted by: Carlos Gomez at July 28, 2004 10:59 AM

_@_v - it's called "natural selection".

_@_v - been around a long time and even with lousy vison in the eyestalks (like no depth perception) i've yet to run into a glass door thinking it's open.

_@_v - of course when's the last time you saw a snail run into anything?

Posted by: she-snailie_@_v at July 28, 2004 01:39 PM

if my child ran through a glass door, i'd do what my parents did when i did the same,..and thats to blame the child and teach them that what they've done is stupid and what to do to avoid it....

if your child sticks his hand in fire are you gonna sue the stove company?

you'd do the same huh? well thats exactly what will keep the child stupid and continue the stupid suing going on.

if they put bear traps out in front of their hotel and your kid ran through, you'd probobly blame the hotel right? why not teach kids to avoid things?!

as for the natural seleection slug thing..thats almost as bad. good parenting (by biological parents and the surrounding society) should be able to help those that aren't superiorly fit for selection and be able to preserve as many traits/talents as we can. if it was up to only natural selection based on what the elements deem weak/strong, then hawking wouldn't be around..nor would most of your geeks... but because we can provide them a safe enviornment to live in, we gain from what they have to offer even (and maybe especially) when its useless.

Posted by: araboth at July 28, 2004 02:31 PM

Consider four things:

1. Contrary to what the movies suggest, going through a plate glass window can cause very severe injuries.

2. The owners of the motel knew that people with poor eyesight and inattentive children would be on their premises.

3. It is very easy and inexpensive to signal to the vision-impaired or inattentive that a window is present, either with stickers or by frosting a strip of glass.

4. A legal rule of thumb is that there is a duty to take preventative action where the cost of prevention is less than the expected level of injury (i.e., the probability of an accident times the harm). This is sometimes called the "Hand formula" for negligence.

In light of the foregoing, I would say that the parents might have a good case.

Posted by: alkali at July 28, 2004 06:24 PM

why can't we blame the child? aren't children stupid any more and that requires us to teach them? even if you have a "good case", so what! you promote that these people go after the hotel owners cause their child is stupid? look its unfortunate, but we aren't talking about an endless slush account of money that you may grab at when your child is stupid....your going to take that money from a neighbor, a friend, another person thats trying to make a living.

doesnt parenting have some inherent risks anymore? the parents need to be taught to watch more carefully, and the kid needs to learn to not run around so wildly in foreign places. this sort of accident teaches exactly that. why can't they just accept that and move on... the secondary action of going after the hotel owners is just like going up and kicking their dog... sure your frustrated, but the damn dog had nothing to do with this stupidity of a child.

Posted by: araboth at July 28, 2004 06:32 PM

Wow, i ran into a glass door when i was a kid... and my parents yelled at me for days about it. Guess what, i've not run into another glass door in the past 25 years. How are children going to learn to not do stupid things if you give the family money each time one climbs into the magical abandoned refrigerator of hide-and-seek fun?

push the button, win a cookie.

Posted by: Joshua Elmore at July 29, 2004 05:28 AM

How do we know whether the child was running?

How do we know whether the child is living or dead now?

Posted by: alkali at July 29, 2004 09:21 AM

I've ran into many glass doors... albeit, some times be purposefull, but it's pretty darn easy even when the glass is only semi-translucent. Then again, I suppose, wearing sunglasses inside and outside at all hours (even in the dead of night) isn't the best of ideas, no?

And there's a really stupid movie about 'you kicked my dog' and it makes no sense, might I add, whilst the topic is still here...

Posted by: Liz at July 29, 2004 11:49 AM

Alkali is right on. I'm suprised most people on here blame the child. The child didn't do it on purpose.

I've seen some hotels put pieces of Scotch tape on the window to signal that a sliding glass door is present. The first time I saw it I thought "Why is that tape there?" Then I figured it out.

Glass makers could easily add some sort of design to the glass that serves two purposes: improves the appearance of the glass and acts as a saftey feature to let people know it is there.

Posted by: Chris at July 29, 2004 03:23 PM

Screwup on my last post:

"on the window" should be "on the glass"

Posted by: Chris at July 29, 2004 03:24 PM

There are a hundred different materials that can be used to make doors. There are a hundred different ways to make a door that passes some light through for whatever purpose, but is obviously visible.

These guys ignored all those options and chose the STUPID option, the option that is surely going to hurt someone someday.

I can't believe so many people are making excuses for them. Are you the same guys who make excuses when a plan crashes because the instruments were badly laid out and difficult to see in low-light conditions ("the pilot should have known that this dial and that one are right next to each other"). Are you the same guys who apologize for moronic software that, 95% of the time puts the "save" button on the right side of the dialog box and 5% of the time puts it on the right side ("the user should have looked at the buttons before clicking").

Damnit, if there's anything that's the point of this website, it's that people don't spend 100% of their day 100% focussed on what's exactly in front of them --- they have lives to live, other things to think about, and they rely on heuristics. Any individual or company that breaks those heuristics is making life difficult for everyone, and if, occasionally, the law slaps them silly, good for the law --- I wish it happened more often.

Posted by: Maynard Handley at July 30, 2004 03:06 AM

_@_v - i'm sorry but an 8 year old would have to be booking it pretty fast to accumulate the kinetic energy required to bust through a glass door - glass is a lot stronger than people give it credit for. that and most commercial places use tempered glass which shatters into crumbs on impact.

_@_v - even more important is that much of your peripheral and detail-oriented vision is gonna go by the wayside whilst in full san juan hill charge, so there could've been police do-not-cross tape on that door and the little bastard would likely still not have seen it.

_@_v---[] - judgement is for the defendant. let that be a lesson to ya kid...

Posted by: she-snailie_@_v at July 30, 2004 08:00 AM

Ech, I still say that running into glass doors is fun. Or running into most solid objects. or coating people in cream cheese. *deranged smirk* then setting rabid squirells on them!

Posted by: Liz at August 1, 2004 10:38 PM

it would seem that this country is being built on stupid lawsuits. it is not just the big corporations that take down the small business'. it is the lawyers and the judges that allow these ridiculous lawsuits to even go to court. it would seem people are after the easy money. it is ashame.

Posted by: Marina at August 3, 2004 05:36 PM

When I was 4 years old, I ran through the plate glass storm door at the front of my house -- the glass had been broken earlier in the summer, and we were in the habit of stepping through the frame. I was away the day the glaziers installed the new glass, and it was spotless -- so much so that I didn't realize it was there until...CRASH.

After several hours of surgery, they were able to save my leg, and I have never even bumped into a plate glass window or door since.

In this case, we don't have all the facts, whether the parents had cautioned the child, whether the hotel had warned the child or parents, whether the child sustained any injury.

Here in Ontario, Canada, since the early 70s, (about a year after my accident, as a matter of fact) glass storm doors have been required to have frosted strips, metal bars between the panes, or some other indicator to make clear the presence of a glass door.

No frivolous lawsuit, no big cash outlay, but a change in legislation that has benefited many.

Posted by: Zena at August 4, 2004 02:15 PM

I can see how this could happen, but have never seen it firsthand until this video...pretty funny.

Posted by: poed at August 9, 2004 03:36 PM

The lawsuit is not over a window that is "kept too clean" - that's just twisting it for sensationalism.

The lawsuit is over a poorly-designed public space that has created a (de facto) danger to its safe use.

Designing a door that can't be seen is simply stupid design - great for looks, thoughtless of the needs of the people who will use it -as thoughtless as if they made the door out of Uranium for its pretty colour.

*And* - it's so easily fixed. Anything stuck to the glass will show that the door is there.

The lawsuit penalizes the motel for being too cheap, lazy and thoughtless to bother spending $5 to prevent an accident (or make better design decisions up front).

Fer cryin' out loud, they're *in the business* of looking after people...

Posted by: DaveC426913 at August 10, 2004 03:04 PM

Now, Correct me if I'm wrong, but when you go into a hotel room aren't the sliding doors usually closed? Did the child assume that they were left open for some reason? I know he's only 8, but that's a bit of time to develop some common sense. This is a ridiculous lawsuit and I can't believe some of you actually see a validity in it. The parents were dumb and should not have allowed their kid to be running around full charge in the freakin hotel room! My dad would have put a stop to that real quick

Posted by: Bill at August 11, 2004 03:05 AM

Can't you see that these parents are just trying to make a little money? First of all theyre staying at "The Hobby House Motor Inn." Unless any of you have ever heard of it, I assume you'll agree with me when I say that no 5 star Marriott; therefore, the family is most definitly not related to bill gates in any way. The childs parents simply realised "hey, if some old lady can sew McDonalds because the coffee was 'too hot' then why can't we sew the hotel because the glass was 'too clean'? Now THERE'S a thought...

Posted by: Ilaan at October 1, 2004 07:45 PM

I'd like to add ending quotes in front of 'too clean'?

Posted by: Ilaan at October 1, 2004 07:47 PM

A friend of my son ran thru my sliding door window this week. It was an accident. could it have been prevented? yes. i should have put a decal on the window. for that i am at fault. my three children have never broken the window. what really bothers me is that the parents of the child are trying to say that he walked into the door and it broke. bull%^&t! he was running and blasted thru the door. I should have had a decal and he shouldn't have been running in the house. we are both responsible in some way. the child is okay but he had a bad cut on his foot. child is 12 years old. they are hinting at negligence on my part. that kid will never be allowed into my home again if they claim negligence.

Posted by: e. fernandez at October 13, 2004 12:00 PM


That's sooo funny. Too bad I wasn't there to witness that kid smacking into that door. That would have been AWESOME!

Posted by: Brandy at November 16, 2004 05:43 AM

I am 37 years old and have never walked into a window . . . until yesterday! I was in a Kinko's (and perhaps an early morning fog) when I turned to leave with my stack of copies to get to my presentation. Not going that fast at all. I was eyeing the main exit just beyond a glassed-in vestbule and moving towards it when - SMACK!!! Everyone behind the counter turned, as I slinked away completely embarrased. Made it to my presentation on time, but had to go home first to clean the blood off my face and clothes. I spent most of last night in the ER and left after learning that my nose had been broken in two places.

While most people would respond "that was pretty %!&##@ stupid," (that was my own reaction), after more considerate thought, I am leaning toward a different conclusion. The glass at Kinko's was very clean as well (as I would expect it to be). Futhermore, there was absolutely nothing hanging on it - no stickers, ads for stationery, or even a logo. The particular piece of glass that I plowed my face into was also framed in aluminum - just like so many door-free entryways that my brain had registered over a lifetime of walking in public places.

To say that a child is "stupid" for walking into glass suggests that there was cognition involved in the child's decision to do so. Had the child comprehended the presence of the glass, had time to take action, and proceeded toward his demise, then indeed there might be a brain-power issue. The same applies to me. It reminds me of that classic psychology experiment in which a baby crawling on a piece of plexiglass refuses to continue when he gets to the part on the course with open space below. If she kept crawling, we would have to worry - the baby is not developed enough to discern between actual open space, and the illusion of such.

We put stickers on windows so birds will not fly into them. But birds will fly, kids will run, and people will walk. We learn from our mistakes and businesses have a responsibility to help prevent us from making them on their property. I don't know if I am the first, 10th, or 100th person to walk into that glass, but the fact that I did should cause some response - even if it is for a manager to say: "if one more person walks into that glass, we need to put a Kinko's logo on it."

Posted by: Kevin at November 20, 2004 07:07 PM

ive been searching on the internet on such issue. my friend died when he was trying to enter his college, the door was made of glass (very thin glass) ....he just died.

Posted by: Majdi Al-Qsous at December 9, 2004 04:59 AM

That kid must've been STUPID...

Posted by: Carly at January 16, 2005 07:19 PM

"Stupid" in this case, doesn't necessarily mean dumb, after all, a kid is gonna do "Stupid" things. It's REALLY the PARENTS that are stupid for not watching their brat close enough. Sure, there are a million "What-if's", but the fact is, this was an accident. Like some earlier posters mentioned, we've ALL done stupid things, especially when we were kids. I did some of the same things mentioned here, and my parents held ME responsible for MY actions - - what a concept, huh?!? Yes, the Hobby Horse Motel should've had tape or something on the glass, but the fact remains that both the parents and the child are at fault. Chalk it up to a lesson learned! Why do people have to blame (& sue) others for their actions? EASY MONEY! And I blame the scumbag lawyers for representing stupid people, just to make money. Why can't can't lawyers decide not to represent someone who comes to them with these rediculous lawsuits? Because they have no regard for right & wrong, only to make money! I know there are a lot of good lawyers out there, and I apologize for lumping you all together, but look what our society has degraded to because of them. Ok. I'll step down from my soapbox now....

Posted by: David at February 15, 2005 01:57 PM

I have these doors - they have decorative stickers on them at my grandchildrens eye level - and decorative tethers of yarn through the screen.

The fix? too many lawyers who barely passed the bar and sue anyone for anything on contingency.

How does such common sense defy so many?

to the beach

Posted by: imnotright at May 3, 2005 07:54 PM

people, it seems, don't take responsibility for their actions anymore. they want to blame everyone else for their mistakes. parents fault for not controlling thier kid, and deeper than that, thier fault for not teaching thier kid not to "run" indoors. a couple of people has said that already and it's true. if you get hurt b/c of YOUR actions, don't blame someone else, where in this case, it's easy to say it's the kid's fault, but he still is, in fact, a kid, and society tells us it's the parents' fault since they are responsible for their kid's actions. If thier kid steals from a store and get's arrested, are they going to sue the store for having the items there tempting the kid to steal them? Of course not, it's called parenting and nobody said it's easy. next..

Posted by: noname at August 29, 2005 06:25 PM

Products should be made for their intended use. Glass decals for doors have been around for ever. Kids should be able to run if they want too, and anyway who can stop them, really? Kids make mistakes. Motels and others in industries where there are lots of doors know that people bang into clean glass doors all the time. They should have had decals on the doors. Der!

Posted by: Vic at March 8, 2006 08:58 AM

Many have said that glass door decals have been around for years. Okay, where? I can not find any. I am a Maint Supervisor at a Motel. A drunk stumbled through the glass door. I have not found those decals

Posted by: RJ Budlong at April 24, 2006 04:33 PM

Needless to say, its still a stupid lawsuit. Its not the lodges fault that they have clean doors. And its not there fault the kid ran into the door. The parents need to take responsibility for the fact that there kid wasent watching what he was doing. He new there was a door there, he should have been more carefull.

Posted by: Cheyenne Peacock at April 24, 2006 06:21 PM

Needless to say, its still a stupid lawsuit. Its not the lodges fault that they have clean doors. And its not there fault the kid ran into the door. The parents need to take responsibility for the fact that there kid wasent watching what he was doing. He new there was a door there, he should have been more carefull.

Posted by: Cheyenne Peacock at April 24, 2006 06:46 PM

The bottom line is that people bang into glass doors, and as a safety precaution the hotel should have furnished the glass doors with the visual cross-stripes, and the only way some companies apparently learn to do the right thing is the hard way. I completely support the lawsuit and I would hope every penny of the hospital costs would have been offered by the hotel, eliminating the need for the suit in the first place.

Posted by: Paul Ronco at May 6, 2006 06:07 PM

I got dinged real good at a Circuit City once. They have a double set of doors - one automatic double door at the main entrance to the front of the building, and automatic doors inside the main door to the SIDE of the main door for entrance and exit. It makes a little sheltered entry completely enclosed in glass. Directly inside of the main front door inside the store is a large glass pane from floor to ceiling, with NO displays, shelves, merchandise, signs, or anything. I checked out after buying some stuff, and walked directly toward the sliding front doors to leave. To make matters worse, there's an entry mat leading directly from the front doors to the WINDOW!! Well of course the light was just right and you couldn't see any reflection or anything and BOOM! I face-planted right into the window. Stunned, I just picked up what I dropped and exited through the side door and then out the front. It happened some time ago and I forgot all about it, but I was sent an email by a friend from ebaumsworld called "dorkvsglass" and there was the SECURITY video of the whole event. Looks and sounds more painful than I remember. I haven't been there for some time, but I will go back now and see if they've moved the entry mat and put up some obstructions or something in front of that large glass pane.

Posted by: TR at May 10, 2006 10:57 AM

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