WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – School and foundation officials should have told King’s College student Jennifer Ercolani that playing tag in a muddy marsh could possibly be dangerous.
Because they allegedly did not, Ercolani is suing King’s College and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation after she “unexpectedly stepped into an area of extremely thick mud” while playing tag with classmates participating in an October environmental studies course, “causing her right leg to hold fast as she turned her body,” according to her lawsuit cited by the Times Ledger.
Ercolani fractured her hip during the game, which followed a “mud run” at the Foundation owned Bishop’s Head, Maryland refuge. In a lawsuit filed against the Foundation and college on Monday, Ercolani claims the experience also resulted in “shock to her nervous system,” and is looking for at least $50,000 from both defendants, according to PennLive.
A spokesperson for King’s College refused to discuss the case, and a message left by the Times Ledger with the Foundation was not returned.
“The lawsuit claims course instructor Brian Mangan did not give Ercolani the option to sit out during the activities, not did the foundation properly warn of the dangerous condition of the premises,” according to the news site.
“Ercolani was not made aware of ‘the presence of uneven terrain below the surface of the water, the variance in the water level and of the variance of the depth and consistency of the bud on the floor of the marsh,’ wrote Wilkes-Barre attorneys Ruth Slamon Borland and David P. Tomaszewski.”
Ercoilani graduated from Meyers High School in 1994, and was an environmental science major at King’s when the incident occurred Oct. 21. The class was participating in a week-long “immersion course focused on the history, geology, economy and ecology of the Chesapeake Bay” taught with instructors from the college and foundation, according to the school’s website.
Most folks commenting online seem to think Ercoilani’s lawsuit is laughable.
“Wait, … you entered an event by the name of ‘Mud Run’ but you didn’t think that running through said mud and water that it might be uneven?” David Huntzinger posted to Facebook. “Then blame the instructor because he didn’t tell you that you might get stuck? … And how do you sue King’s College a state away for your misgivings? …
“Sounds like a ‘settlement’ in the works. It’s sad when layers take advantage of these scenarios … just to get them and their clients a quick buck!”
“Maybe she should have picked a different major. You would think that someone who is an environmental studies major who just spent a week studying the land there would have a clue about its layout,” Mary Williams wrote. “You fell while playing tag. I doubt it was a course requirement. They shouldn’t owe her anything.”
“What a joke,” Jim Watkinson added.
“Seems like a common sense problem to me,” Charles Dancheck posted. “I guess there is no classes for that.”
Andrew Witterschein, who words with the Edison Wetlands Association, contends he participated in the class at the marsh, and recalled a different take on the chain of events.
“Clearly she was not listening to the lectures or the guides at CBF. Being someone who went on this class excursion, we were fully aware of the change in depth before even going into the marsh and also Dr. Mangan is definitely not one to forcefully make anyone do anything,” Witterschein wrote. “It’s a shame that it has come to a lawsuit because this will ruin the great experience of this Chesapeake Bay Ecology course.”