A few days ago, I posted about Jeb Corliss, the man who attempted to BASE jump from the Empire State Building, and his lawsuit against the building’s management.
I have found a video of the incident and it has tilted my opinion just a bit.
I still think that his defamation suit is doomed to failure, and I do hope that it fails. I sympathize with Corliss, but I like the First Amendment more.
On that day, Mr. Corliss was arrested for reckless endangerment (a charge he later beat). Watching this video, it seems to me that the security officers themselves were the only ones who recklessly endangered anyone. Corliss thinks so too, and is also suing for intentional infliction of emotional distress. I think that an impartial jury could find for him now that I have watched this video. Unfortunately for Mr. Corliss, I still think that the Building’s defense attorney will have a pretty easy time playing on non-skydiver’s prejudices about the sport.
Here is the video, and afterward, Corliss’ statement. You decide. Did these guards needlessly and recklessly endanger Mr. Corliss? I’m convinced that they did. I’m just not convinced that it adds up to intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Now, Corliss’ statement (gathered from youtube)
This is footage of the empires security staff grabbing my legs as I stood on a 4 inch ledge. I was the only person on that observation deck that had training in base jumping. I was the only person on that observation deck that understood how base jumping equipment worked and I was the only person that no one was listening to. If my parachute had opened while the security was holding on to me I would have been yanked from their arms and I would have impacted one of the buildings ledges 4 floors down. The fall could have killed me. I had to keep my back as far away from the security as possible. My parachute was being held in with velcro. Had the security put their hands behind my back they could have forced my parachute open. I knew that if they hand cuffed me to the bars and my parachute were to open my arms would be severed and I would fall to my death. So I tried to keep them from hand cuffing me. But eventually they did hand cuff me and I started telling them that if my parachute opened my arms would be severed and I would die. NO ONE WOULD LISTEN TO ME. Finally after repeating, if my parachute opens my arms will be severed and I will die many times one police officer looked at me and said ” what did you just say” I repeated my self again. He told me to take the rig off. I told him I was sown into it. He pulled out a knife and started cutting. I said please don’t cut me. He said cutting you is the least of your worries right now sir. I agreed and he cut the rig off me. Once the rig was cut off and I was finally safe I said I will climb over the bars now. They said they couldn’t let me climb over the bars because I could fall. I said you didn’t seem to care about that 5 minutes ago. But they said I would have to wait till a harness got there. They then put a net over me and I waited for a harness to get there. They then decided that they were going to remove a small part of the fence by removing a few bolts. I told them it was totally unnecessary but they did it anyway. I could have easily climbed back over those bars.
Now, the only person whose life was in danger that day was mine. The security was on the other side of 11 ft high security bars. It was physically impossible for them to fall from the building in their position. If I had fallen at that point I would have hit a ledge 4 floors down hurting no one but my self. If you would like to learn more about the technical reasons why it was impossible for me to squash someone on the ground if I had jumped you can go to www.myspace.com/jebcorliss I write in my blog about the technical information behind my jump…
He makes a good point, no?