Hantavirus in Yosemite

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6 Responses

  1. Jim Maloney says:

    Given the extreme cost and difficulty (maybe even impossibility) of preventing mice in a woodland park from nesting in cozy insulation materials conveniently placed at their disposal by humans, and given further the rarity of human deaths due to hantavirus, this scenario fairly screams for an application, in one fashion or another, of Learned Hand’s famous balancing approach from United States v. Carroll Towing Co., 159 F.2d 169 (2d Cir. 1947).

    I know it’s easy to say there’s no liability (yes, that is, in effect, what I’m saying) when you’re not the victim or a member of the victim’s family, and, truth be told, I’d rather see a lot of hantavirus-risky activity stopped. Much of its is unnecessary. Do we really need INSULATED cabins? More to the point here on Wrong Island, New York (and in other suburbs around the country), do we really need teams of underpaid “illegals” blowing pulverized rodent droppings into the air we breathe using noisy, oil-burning, portable two-stroke engines (i.e., “leafblowers”)? As I envision my neighbors who hire these “landscapers” (as for me, I use a rake) on vacation in Yosemite in their INSULATED cabins, notes from Koyaanisqatsi seem to play in my mind’s ear…

    So what’s next? Hantavirus disclaimers? (“If lawyers are lemmings…”)

  2. Jim Maloney says:

    Edits to the above:

    “Much of its is unnecessary” should be “Much of it is unnecessary.”

    “Wrong Island” probably should be “Long Island,” although I’m not sure…


  3. Robert S says:

    I stayed at Curry Village on 8/26-8/27 in the Signature Tents.

    I’m not a legal scholar but I feel I can add some additional background to this event at Yosemite for your discussion.

    I think it’s easy to see the recent events at Yosemite as just a random act of nature – but consider the following:

    – we rented 3 cabins, 2 of the 3 had audible mice infestations where you could hear the mice making scratching noises in the walls

    – under the tents there was plentiful amounts of insulation that had been pulled out by the mice (visible evidence of infestation)

    – the exterior fabric on the tents was in various states of quality, our tents were ok but there have been plenty of pictures recently in the press showing ones that had tears large enough for mice to crawl into

    – we mentioned to the personnel there that we had mice, and I’m sure we weren’t the first

    – if you check online via yelp or tripadvisor (there may be other sites) people complain about mice infestations and feces going back to at least 2008. So this was a problem in Curry Village even BEFORE the signature tents were built in 2009.

    – multiple times over the last five years, Yosemite was warned about Hantavirus. In 2010 the California Department of Public Health outlined various actions they recommended the park to take. These included posting hantavirus warnings on EVERY rentable tent and in camping areas, and urged the control and removal of rodents in camping/sleeping areas.

    – on our arrival (Sunday 8/26, TEN days after the first announcement of the outbreak) we did NOT receive any warning on entering Yosemite, did NOT receive any warning on checking in to Curry Village, did NOT see any visible warnings posted throughout the camping village. On the day we left, we saw one small sign by the bathroom.

    And of course who knows what further communications between the key players (Yosemite park service administration, the concessioner, various public health agencies, etc.) we will uncover during discovery of what I think will be an inevitable law suit.

    So I’m sure that it should come as no surprise that those of us who were there feel there was a culture of negligence at play. We feel they had ample evidence that something was amiss. They failed their responsibility to their patrons.

    I hope justice will be served here -not just to punish the negligent parties, but to act as a deterrent to other establishments across the country.

  4. Jordan J. Paust says:

    Yes, the mice are everywhere. As a cabin owner on the east side of the Sierras (in Mono County), I suspect that those who tend to use the back country, campers, cabin owners, locals, etc. are generally on notice of the risk.

  5. Janet W says:

    I had a similar experience to Robert S. My family and I stayed in a signature cabin between Aug 23-26. We were not given any notification about hantavirus despite a conclusive link being made between these tents and the outbreak. My children were in that tent. No discussion of liability is complete without pointing the finger at the private company that owns and operates Curry Village lodging: Delaware North Company. They put profits over people and need to be held accountable.

  6. Janet W says:

    To add to my previous post: In trying to make sense of the relationship between the NPS and the concessionaires, I came across a comparative analysis of NPS, state park and international parks as they relate to several facets of contractual terms of concessionaires. One thing that I found very interesting and disturbing is that the NPS concessionaire contracts require the concessionaires to set aside a maintenance fund for repairs of buildings, etc. The state parks and the international parks also require concessionaires to set money aside for maintaining facilities. However, the NPS RETURNS the balance of the fund to the concessionaire at the end of the year giving the concessionaire NO incentive to make the necessary improvements!