Capture the flag game leads to broken teeth, lawsuit

CHARLEVOIX, Mich. (AP) -- A Chicago girl who lost teeth and was severely injured during a game of capture the flag can take a northern Michigan camp to trial for negligence, the state appeals court said last Friday.

Julie Gamze, 13 at the time, was struck in the mouth with a flagpole carried by another camper while they were running at Camp Sea-Gull in Charlevoix in 2007. The appeals court, noting some confusion about the game, said jurors should sort out whether kids were told by staff to grab a towel at the base of the pole or the pole itself.

The camp "owed Gamze a duty to provide proper instructions. ... She and her family entrusted defendants with her safety during her stay," a three-judge panel said.

The court said Gamze, now 18, lost a tooth and suffered three cracked teeth. But her attorney, Ryann Embury of Traverse City, said the injuries and subsequent care have been very extensive.

"She's been having all sorts of bone grafts," he said. "She will have problems with her teeth for the rest of her life because of the age of her bones when she was struck in the face. She could have lost her eye. Thank God she didn't."

A message seeking comment from the camp's attorney was not immediately returned.

"We understand accidents occur, but a 13-year-old shouldn't go away to a summer camp and come home missing her front teeth," Embury said.

Published: Tue, Jun 26, 2012