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Woman files $10M lawsuit against YMCA Camp of Maine alleging permanent injury when she was a teen

Lawyers for Arielle Gazzola say she was 14 when she fell from an overcrowded platform on a ropes course at the camp, suffering severe and permanent injury.
Credit: Attorney Peter Baron

WINTHROP, Maine — A New York woman has filed a $10 million lawsuit against a Maine camp, charging officials with negligence in a 2014 incident in which she was severely and permanently injured.

Arielle Gazzola, now 21, was 14 when she attended a retreat at the YMCA Camp of Maine in Winthrop on Memorial Day Weekend in 2014.

According to a complaint filed by Gazzola's attorney, Peter D. Baron, Gazzola fell from an overcrowded platform during a supervised activity on a ropes course, hit her head on a tree stump, and suffered "severe, serious and permanent injuries."

Baron said Wednesday that Gazzola suffered a traumatic brain injury when "she fell or was pushed" because too many kids swung by rope onto an already overcrowded platform.

Baron said two counselors were supervising the activity on the course, known both as "Nitro Crossing" and the "peanut butter pit."

The suit seeks $10 million in damages, alleging camp officials knew of "dangerous and defective conditions" on the course and negligently allowed the stump to be near the platform.

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Baron said Gazzola didn't realize the severity of her injuries until the next day when she became "quite uncoordinated" and suffered headaches, nausea, dizziness, vomiting, and other symptoms.

He said she was diagnosed at a hospital with TBI, "with all the features including cognitive [issues] and adjustment disorder."

But Portland attorney Michael K. Martin, representing the YMCA Camp of Maine, said that while the camp hired qualified, trained instructors to oversee the ropes course, no one was ever compelled to participate in the activity. He also said no platform on the ropes course was "within striking distance" from a tree stump.

Furthermore, Martin wrote that no injury or fall was reported during the retreat Gazzola attended, and none was witnessed by Maine YMCA staff.

Martin added that any requests for damages should be reduced because of "plaintiff's own comparative fault" and "failure to take reasonable steps to mitigate her damages."

"This was an amazing young girl, a young athlete, and at 14 everything kind of went downhill," Martin said.

Portland attorney Michael K. Martin, who represents the YMCA of Maine, did not return a request for comment Wednesday.

Parties will participate in a remote hearing Tuesday with U.S. District Magistrate Judge John H. Rich III.

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