Carnes: Sue no longer means Mom |

Carnes: Sue no longer means Mom

Up until a few months ago the only meaning for Happy Valley’s 8-year-old Scott Swimm of the word “Sue” was a nickname for his Mom, Susan.

Not anymore.

Thanks to David Pfahler and his alleged nursemaid of a wife, Marlene Ambrogio, Scott now knows ” not necessarily better ” but different.

“Sue” is normally an adult-only word, one used as slang for “lawsuit,” as in alleged slimeball from Allentown, Penn. filing a lawsuit against a child for a ski accident a year ago this weekend on a catwalk in Arrowhead.

Don’t you just love that word, alleged? Although this is a civil case, not criminal, lawyers and such can toss out dang near any rumor or gossip they wish, as long as they say “alleged” up front.

Suffice it to say that there are numerous alleged allegations in the Pfahler past, including other sports-related injuries and even a prior ski injury lawsuit on Vail Mountain, that shed serious doubts towards the validity of his claims. Hopefully these will come to light publically before the trial which, believe it or not, will not occur until after we’ve already picked our new president, next November.

Pfahler, allegedly a very strong recreational skier, allegedly tore a tendon in his shoulder during the collision (but is that really when it occurred?) and is suing then 7-year-old Scott for physical therapy expenses, vacation time and other expenses, such as his wife applying Band-Aids.

Perhaps Scott could offer his new Nintendo Wii he received for Christmas as collateral.

Pfahler’s lawyer, alleged ski patrol chaser, Jim Chalat, actually said on 9News, “This isn’t the first time a child has whacked somebody on the hill.”


Is this guy from the Tony Soprano School of Law, or what?

But fuggetaboutit, enough of the alleged insults.

What we have here is an individual (age irrelevant) participating in a sport which involves sliding down snow-covered slippery slopes on one or two wooden sticks where the odds are extremely high that there might be other individuals attempting to do the exact same thing.

Common sense says that by engaging in such a sport one might suffer injury, and one accepts that responsibility when doing so.

Let’s pretend common sense, for some odd reason, does not apply here, and remember that Scott was then a 47-pound, 7-year-old with four solid seasons of skiing experience.

According to Scott and his Dad, Robb (who witnessed the entire debacle and is conveniently also being sued), Scott apologized and tried to continue on his way when Pfahler grabbed his legs (with a freshly torn rotator cuff?), cursed at him and said he was going to sue.

Wow, almost as if it were premeditated. Allegedly almost, I guess I should add.

Think about it: this adult grabbed and cursed at a young child who was trying to apologize. Close your eyes for a second and just try to imagine Scott’s heartbeat at that instant.

Also at that exact moment, Robb Swimm had to make an extraordinary decision that would have far-reaching implications for his son.

Providing this victim (alleged …) with a heaping dose of “pick on somebody your own size” would have made him feel better, but instead Robb chose the appropriate path, and waited patiently (while simultaneously holding his tongue) for Ski Patrol to arrive as Pfahler continued shouting personal insults and threats.

If anything, Robb receives my 2007 Father of the Year Award.

Put it this way, if I am skating around the Edwards Skate Park and some punk nails me from behind, it’s my own dumb fault for skating around the Edwards Skate Park where some punk might nail me from behind.

However, if I am sitting at my desk on the second floor of my house and some punk tosses his skateboard up through my window and nails me, then we indeed have “issues.”

An accident is exactly that, a chance occurrence without malice.

If Pfahler did a hockey stop in the middle of the catwalk and/or Scott was following too closely, then either way they share responsibility for an accident, nothing more.

It is a major reason why most of us have health insurance (in and of itself a completely separate issue, so please spare me the Clintonesque retorts).

Suing a child for anything above that has absolutely nothing to do with accountability or ethics, or being noble or teaching the child to be responsible ” it is about someone trying to make a few bucks the easy way.

There are just some things one should never do in life, like hike Holy Cross alone, try to fix the toaster with scissors, or punt to Devin Hester. The same goes for paying to watch dogs fight, casually mentioning weight gain to a spouse or eating yellow snow, but never, ever, absolutely under any circumstance, should a 7-year-old child be sued in a court of law for being a 7-year-old child.

NOTE: The preceding opinions belong to Richard and are not necessarily shared by this newspaper … but they (allegedly) should be.

Richard Carnes of Edwards writes a biweekly column for the Daily. He can be reached at

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