Campground Rowdiness Leads to Civil Suit

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April 28, 2009 by   - () Leave a Comment

A 28-year-old New Hampshire man has sued two Massachusetts men and a Fryeburg, Maine, campground after he was seriously injured by a water balloon in 2007.

Eric A. Nelson of Manchester, N.H., is accusing Jonathan D. Buell and Frederick J. Lavitman of Framingham, Mass., with negligence. He also accuses Fiddlehead Campground with breach of contract and breach of duty, according to the Sun-Journal, Lewiston, Maine.

Attorney Malcolm Lyons, representing Nelson, said Lavitman provided a three-man slingshot to Buell, who fired it. Lyons said the campground "advertised that guests can 'avoid rowdy groups canoeing on the river' by staying at the campground, where campers agree to standard campground groups that 'help control noise and unruly behavior.'"

Lyons said a campground contract implied that it would provide protection from unruly behavior, and that it breached the contract by letting Buell and Lavitman possess the slingshot and fire water balloons at campers and people on the Saco River.

In the incident on Aug. 12, 2007, Nelson was struck in the eye by a balloon that had been fired from 67 feet away. He suffered a broken ocular bone and lacerations to the face and was later flown to the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston.

Police confiscated two water balloon slings, a compressed air water balloon cannon and water balloon remnants.
Buell, now 29, was initially charged with elevated aggravated assault, but the charge was reduced to reckless conduct. The district attorney's office dropped the charge in January 2008 due to lack of evidence.

Lavitman, 26 at the time of the incident, was also arrested after the incident and charged with aggravated reckless conduct; however, the district attorney's office declined to prosecute the case.

Lyons said Nelson incurred physical injury, permanent impairment, severe emotional distress, past and future medical bills, lost earnings, and lost enjoyment of life. He is asking for judgment against the two men and the campground in a reasonable amount with interest and costs.

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