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Jury Returns $1.3 Million Verdict Against Girl Scouts of Chicago

09.22.2000

A Cook County jury returned a verdict of $1,320,000 against the Girl Scouts of Chicago, holding them responsible for a 1996 incident at a Scout-owned camp where a 300 pound bell fell and crushed the right leg of a teen-age girl. The court order approving verdict was issued by Judge Cheryl Starks.

Corboy & Demetrio handled the case for the girl's family.

On August 10, 1996, Christine O'Shea of Munster, Indiana (then 15 years old and between her freshman and sophomore years in high school), arrived at the Girl Scout-operated camp in East Troy, Wisconsin for a week-long trip sponsored by the Diocese of the Armenian Church. The Church sponsored the session for children aged 9-15 and Christine had attended the camp since she was nine years old. This was her second year at the camp in Wisconsin.

In the center of the Girl Scout campground was a 300 pound brass bell that sat on a pole, 12 feet off the ground. The bell was used as a wake-up signal and to announce camp activities. On the second day of camp, August 11, 1996 Christine was told she could ring the bell to announce the day's classes. Christine reached to pull the rope and it didn't move; she pulled again, looked up and the bell was headed straight at her. Her next memory was waking up with the bell on her right leg, with blood and bone visible.

Christine was rushed to surgery where doctors determined that her leg had been crushed. They inserted a rod into her right leg and over the course of many months performed numerous operations. Her injured leg now has a diamond-shaped scar that is six inches long, four inches wide and almost an inch deep. Christine is now a sophomore at Indiana University. Her parents, Tom and Gisele still live in Munster. The O'Sheas have another daughter, Lisa, 21 years old.

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