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Woman Threatens To Sue Aquarium After She Puts Her Hand In Jellyfish Exhibit And Gets Stung

Krrnika Phechr Xyu/EyeEm/Getty Images

Most of us have been in one of those situations at a zoo or animal sanctuary where it’s clear that there are things we shouldn’t do… and then someone tries to do it anyway.

Tragically, this can lead to someone getting hurt or an animal being euthanized for someone not respecting their boundaries.

Even still, some people will still have the audacity to try to sue after they’ve messed up, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.

Redditor vjgiigviivvuguvv had had enough of that type of thinking.

But when they were criticized, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if they should have spoken out at all.

They asked the sub: 

“AITA for telling my aunt to stop being ‘a Karen’ after she wanted to sue the jellyfish museum after getting stung by a jellyfish?”

The OP recently visited a jellyfish museum.

“My family and I went on vacation and we visited the jellyfish museum, which was a massive aquarium dedicated to jellyfish.”

“They must’ve had every species of jellyfish, it was massive and it was so cool, as they were so colorful.”

“A few of the jellyfish tanks for some reason didn’t have a protective lid on the top and it was possible to stick your hand in there.”

“That’s a dumb idea for obvious reasons and it had a label in Ukrainian and English telling you not to touch it.”

“The translation wasn’t great, something like ‘To put hands in the water is forbidden,’ but you get the point.”

The OP’s aunt didn’t listen to the signs. 

“Well, my aunt decided to touch them. She explained that she’s touched many jellyfish and she knows that this species is safe, as she’s seen them on the beach.”

“I told her that’s not a good idea, but she told me to be quiet, and she stuck her hand into the tank, and it hurt a lot.”

“She started screaming and yelling, and some old Ukrainians were laughing at her.”

The aunt wanted to pursue legal action.

“An employee came over, and he barely spoke English, but he said she was stupid for touching the jellyfish.”

“She asked for a manager and said how she’s going to sue, blah blah blah.”

“I was fed up and I told her to shut the f**k up.”

“My mom told me I need to respect authority.”

“I said no, the aunt was a dumba** and we should leave the employees alone.”

The aunt continued entertaining the idea.

“We went over to a clinic and she was fine, but she wants to sue them.”

“I told her to stop and it’s her fault.”

“Most of the family agrees, but my mom is on her side.”

“AITA?”

Fellow Redditors weighed in:

  • NTA: Not the A**hole
  • YTA: You’re the A**hole
  • ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
  • NAH: No A**holes Here

Some said the aunt was asking for it.

“NTA. I’ve been to the jellyfish museum in Kyiv. You had to remove some kid thing to be able to touch them. It’s quite obvious it’s not one of those aquariums where you can play with them.”

“Marine ecosystems are quite fragile, people touching the tanks can contaminate the water. She could’ve hurt the jellyfish.”GyrosLightning

“NTA. Your aunt is not a professional jellyfish handler, so I’m not 100% sure why she thought it would be a good idea to ignore warning signs and stick her hand in a jellyfish tank (and jellyfish are a well-known animal that sting and it’s painful).”

“This is definitely a case of ‘play stupid games, win stupid prizes.'”

“If your aunt tries to file a suit, she would likely be laughed out of court. So, while she needs to accept that she was very wrong in her choice of actions, do apologize for calling her a dumba** and telling her to shut the f**k up to help maintain the peace.”desert_red_head

“NTA – play jellyfishy games, win jellyfishy prizes.”kaleidoscopycat

Others said the aunt wouldn’t get anywhere if she sued.

“NTA. In torts law, there is something called the assumption of risk. She’s an adult and assumed the risk of being stung after being told not to.”

“She’s wrong and is just looking for a frivolous lawsuit that will likely get dropped anyway.”

“If you don’t like her, encourage her and watch her not get her way spending money on attorney’s fees. It’ll probably be a great cautionary tale. Who knows. You’re NTA fosho (for sure).”Ok_Medicine_77

“Threatening to sue and actually following through on a lawsuit are 2 different things.”

“Even in the US, someone, in this case, could attempt to, but they’d need to find a lawyer willing to take the case on contingency, and a judge willing to hear the case.”

“She’d also need to quantify damages, which per the post would be at most a couple hundred for an urgent care visit (no way you’d even remotely be able to argue for emotional distress), and prove fault, which the signage would likely be enough to overcome.”

“She’d be laughed out of the lawyer’s office first, and if she attempted to file in small claims herself, a judge would laugh her out of the courthouse and not even let it get onto the docket. Any lawyer who would take this is doing it at their own peril and would be likely to be sanctioned by their state’s Bar.”duffman13jws

“You can sue but it would be dismissed because the aquarium wasn’t negligent. They had a sign to warn her of danger and they fulfilled their standard duty of care. There’s little to no chance of recovery.”Masta-Blasta

Some said the OP was wrong, but justified, in how they addressed their aunt.

“Your aunt can sue all she wants, but I doubt it’ll get her anything; any damages to her were willfully self-inflicted in clear disregard for the posted warning.”

“You are correct that your aunt is at fault, but you could have conveyed that without the disrespect (even though she behaved badly).”

“Still, I think you were acting out of frustration and embarrassment, rather than hostility.”

“NTA.”Taojnhy

“If she had just stuck her hand in, got stung, cried out, and was just upset, what OP said would’ve been an overreaction.”

“But she was actively harassing innocent people and animals (I mean, fortunately, jellyfish don’t have the intelligence to get upset, but there’s always a risk of hurting them or contaminating their environment).”

“I say OP’s response was therefore justified. I mean, I’m not saying ANY response OP may have had would not have been justified.”

“But his snapping in this situation was completely fair – the employees have limited ability to stand up for themselves while maintaining proper customer service, so someone needs to.”

“OP could’ve been nicer… but his aunt could’ve as well.”

“And I can’t imagine him saying, ‘Excuse me, maybe you should calm down…’ would’ve resulted in anything other than her turning on him.”Willowed-Wisp

“I still think he’s not the a**hole. The aunt was harassing and bullying innocent people for having the audacity of letting her into the building to break their clear safety rules.”

“OP was calling out and shutting down aunt’s harassment of someone else. Could he have done this more politely? Yes. But I don’t think being rude to someone who is bullying and harassing people makes you an a**hole.”

“I think that’s an acceptable reaction, and better than saying nothing and just letting people be mistreated. I guess it’s not the best possible response, which would be to call her out repeatedly, firmly, and politely. (Assuming this even works on aunt at all?) But just because you could have handled a situation more perfectly does not make you an a**hole. (NTA.)”

“I think once people are harassing and bullying others, they lose the right to expect everyone to be respectful to them in that situation. And let’s not forget she was also endangering animals for bonus points.”TheHatOnTheCat

Though the subReddit agreed the OP could have responded less harshly to their aunt, they also agreed the OP was justified in their frustrations. After all, there were signs to warn the aunt, and who would think it was a good idea to touch a jellyfish that could sting you?

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan lives in North Chicago, where she works as a poet, freelance writer, and editor. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University, and her BA in English from Indiana University South Bend. Her poems have appeared in Rogue Agent, Whale Road Review, the James Franco Review, Thank You for Swallowing, and elsewhere; and her essays and book reviews have appeared with Memoir Mixtapes, The Rumpus, BookPage, and Motherly, among others. When she's not reading and writing, she's in her garden or spending time with her family. For more, visit www.mckenzielynntozan.com.