Having personally grown up in Brooklyn, spending a summer home had a few very distinct memories. One was summer camp. Summer camp comes with all the excitement of warm weather, playing outside and field trips. Second was the fun of hanging out in your neighborhood and walking a few blocks here and there. On that topic, my mom always made clear that if you went a little too far left or right the neighborhood changes drastically and you have to be careful. I always remembered that. In some neighborhoods these “dividing lines” are clear. One that comes to mind is Crown Heights in Brooklyn. I will add that over the last two decades the communities that make up Crown Heights have worked very hard and had some success on bringing people together.
Camp trips are often run by the camp and the means of transportation are hired vans or buses. More often than not the camp trip leaves from the camp and returns all campers to the camp for pick up by their parents or their return home.
On a fateful day in July, 2014 a 10 year old boy was attending a Brooklyn Day Camp. The Camp was located in his neighborhood. On this particular day the camp took the campers to a trip and upon their return the driver said to a boy, “I can drop you here, it may be closer to your home.” The boy didn’t think much of it but got off and then driver said “run run”. The boy ran into the street only to be hit by an oncoming vehicle that was traveling on this two way street.
Sadly this young boy was hit and sustained a skull fracture for which he was hospitalized for almost two weeks. During this time he had to be intubated and was given medication for the pain. He did not have surgery and made a full recovery.
My firm was asked to take on this case initially against the vehicle that struck him. However, upon our discussion with the family, it became clear that the camp had placed this young boy in a position of danger both by 1) letting him off not at his camp for which he would walk one block and meet his mom who would take him the rest of the way; 2) dropping him in an area unfamiliar to him both in location and the make up of the community; despite being a few blocks apart. These actions contributed to the accident.
We pursued the case against both the camp and the driver. We were initially told that this was not their fault and that the police who witnessed the accident felt the boy was fully at fault for running into the street. a nominal “token” offer was made. We rejected that offer outright. We laid out our theory at a private mediation. Edward Steinberg attended and am pleased to report that the matter settled for a confidential amount which is 18x more than what the initial offer was.
Furthermore and maybe most importantly, the mother of this young man, emailed me after the mediation and stated: