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Child injured in camp game can pursue claim against Camp

Julie Gamze was badly hurt when she was stabbed in the mouth by another girl with the pointed stake at the bottom of a flagpole.  The girls were participating in an organized game of "capture the flag" when the incident occurred.  The Charlevoix Circuit Judge had dismissed young Julie's claim, holding that Camp Sea-Gull, Inc., employees had not "caused" the injury.

The family appealed and the Circuit Judge's decision was overturned.  The higher court noted that the counselor who organized the game admitted that he may not have made clear to the children that they were to "capture" a towel on the ground at the base of the flagpole--not the dangerous pole-mounted flag.  The counselor himself couldn't confirm that he had clarified this rule, and unsigned statements relied upon by the judge in holding that the Camp employees were not negligent did not actually address the void. 

The unanimous Court of Appeals ruled that the Camp employees owed a duty of reasonable care in instructing the participating campers, and pointed out that based on the testimony adduced, there was a genuine issue of material fact with regard to whether the Camp's employees had met their duty.  While several camper-children testified that they had not heard any instruction about which flag to "capture," Camp employees were unable to confirm that a careful instruction had actually been given. The legal requirement to prove "causation" is a factual determination for the jury where the relevant facts are disputed.

Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
309 East Front Street
Traverse City, Michigan 49684
Toll Free: 1-800-678-1307
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