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14 year-old camper allowed to work in kitchen burned by boiling water: Leav & Steinberg recovers $685,000.00

When you send your children off to camp, the hope is that they will be in a safe environment cared for by individuals who will treat them as their own children.  Leav & Steinberg was retained by the family of a 14 year old boy who was at sleep away camp in the summer of 2015.  He was a camper but also being given the opportunity to be a Counselor-in-Training (CIT).  That role usually includes working in the cafeteria or with other campers.  This camp allowed our client to work in the kitchen.  They allowed him to fry eggs, boil corn and handle other hot items.  He was not old enough under the law to have “working papers” and was given no instruction.

One day he was told to boil corn and take it off the stove onto a rolling cart.  He did this as told without any supervision. The water spilled onto his leg and into his sneaker. He immediately ran outside and took his sneaker off.  A nurse on duty came over and told him it was nothing too serious, really just a first degree burn. She assured him things would be okay and put a band aid on it and some ointment.   She called his parents and told them the same.  A hospital was only 15 minutes away by car.  She never took him.

As days passed, she continued to change the dressing and assured him it was okay.  Sadly, it was not.  Approximately 5 days later a doctor for the camp showed up, saw the boy’s foot and immediately told him to call his parents and have them come and get him.    His father picked him up and what he saw shocked him.   He rushed him back home and right to the burn unit at a local hospital. He remained there for several days undergoing a debridement procedure where the damaged skin is removed in hope of healthy skin growing back.  He was restricted from school sports activities for the following semester of school.

He was left with a significant scar on the top of the foot. Thankfully he has no functional limitation but has residual redness when he stands for a period of time.

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The camp at first tried to say he was an “employee” and therefore can not sue the camp.  Leav & Steinberg was able to obtain an order from the State where the camp was located that he was not even old enough to be employed and no records were ever filed that he was a volunteer or assistant.

The camp then tried to argue that he could have refused to keep working in the kitchen.  We proved that this was not a logical or reasonable defense.

Finally, they argued he made an adequate recovery and the scar was in an area that would not be visible under most circumstances.

They initially made no offer but after conducting the depositions and proving our case they extended an offer of $250,000.00.  While many law firms may have suggested the client accept that, we did not. Partner, Edward Steinberg, advised them that we would not consider this figure as a fair settlement.  We continued to push forward and with the case on the trial calendar, the defendant asked to go to a private mediation.  We attended and resolved the matter for $685,000.00