The East Bay Regional Park District in Oakland, California, will be doling out $3 million dollars to the family of a 10-year-old boy after a jury determined the park was liable for severe burns he suffered at an unattended campsite.
The June 2012 incident happened at Anthony Chabot Regional Park in Castro Valley. A press release published at lawdragon.comsaid the boy was wandering through a campsite at Hawk Ridge when he slipped and fell, falling into a ring of burning embers in a raised fire pit. The pit was underneath a gazebo. The danger lurked within charcoal embers and branches that collected around the pit. The boy suffered second and third-degree burns to his hand and forearm and was hospitalized for two weeks where he underwent skin grafting treatment. He will require more surgeries over a period of time.
East Bay Regional Park rangers said the campsite was thoroughly inspected an hour prior to ensure the camp was secure and the fire extinguished. But the charcoal embers, still burning under a layer of ash at 1000 degrees, were completely overlooked.
The child’s family is represented by the Taylor and Ring Law firm in Los Angeles. Lead attorney David Ring said, “
. This was a hidden danger. The main reason for the rangers’ inspection is to ensure any remaining fire is extinguished in order to prevent this exact type of incident from occurring.”
The Contra Costa Times reported that Carolyn Jones, spokesperson for East Bay Regional Park District called the incident egregious, adding, “We’re going to change things here, tighten up the protocol.”
After three weeks of evidence and testimony, the jury found the district liable for creating a dangerous condition on public property. A $500,000 portion of the settlement will come from a legal reserve fund held by the East Bay Regional Park District, with another $1.7 million to be paid out by the Girl Scouts of Americas’ insurer. It was not reported where the remaining balance will come from.