Bear Attack Lawsuit to Continue

February 3, 2009

A federal judge has declined to throw out a lawsuit against the government filed by the family of an 11-year-old boy who was mauled to death by a black bear.

U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball ruled against the government’s claim that federal agencies had immunity from being sued for negligence in the case.

Kimball noted that officials knew an aggressive bear had been present earlier in the day at the campsite where Sam Ives was attacked. But a lawyer for the family of Ives contended that under an agreement with state agencies, the U.S. Forest Service was required to take action to protect campers.

The Pleasant Grove, Utah, boy died during a Father’s Day camping trip in American Fork Canyon in 2007. A bear ripped through the boy’s tent and dragged him away.

The bear was tracked down and killed the next day.

The boy’s family also filed a negligence suit against the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. The state filed a motion to dismiss, saying it was not required to issue warnings, and the case is pending in Utah’s 4th District Court.

The lawsuit against the Forest Service seeks $2 million. Utah law would cap damages in the lawsuit against the state at $550,000.

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