Summer Camp Sued for $600K Over Alleged 'Kissy-Fit' - Legally Weird
Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

Summer Camp Sued for $600K Over Alleged 'Kissy-Fit'

The parents of a 15-year-old girl who was kicked out of summer camp for kissing a boy are suing the camp and its directors for more than $600,000 in damages.

The lawsuit filed by "Jane Doe's" parents claims the teen suffered "severe emotional distress" and humiliation after she kissed the boy (named "Dick" in the lawsuit) and was escorted out of the camp by an armed police officer, reports United Press International. What's worse: The camp's director allegedly threw a hissy kissy-fit.

Was the abrupt end for "Dick" and "Jane" enough to justify more than a half-million dollars in damages?

Summer Lovin'

Camp Emerson, where the alleged "kissy-fit" occurred, is a co-ed sleepaway camp in Massachusetts that charges $7,000 a month per camper, according to the girl's lawsuit.

Despite the upscale cost, the camp's director allegedly unleashed vulgar names at "Jane," calling her a "slut" and a "tramp" for kissing a boy, reports The New York Post.

If summer camp movies have taught us anything -- other than that puberty is a hellish rite of passage -- it's that summer camp is a perfect opportunity for underage children to sneak off and awkwardly make out.

"Jane" asserts that by the camp's negative reaction to her locking lips with "Dick," it was in fact defamation.

Defamation With Dick and Jane

What the suit against Camp Emerson describes as "a beautiful, innocent moment" was turned into fuel for a shame session, allegedly causing "Jane" severe emotional distress. That is generally very difficult to prove without related medical issues.

There are certain statements which have been considered categorically defamatory when spoken (in legal terms, slanderous per se), which include:

  • Accusing someone of committing a serious crime,
  • Questioning a woman's chastity (bingo), or
  • Claiming someone has a loathsome disease (read: STDs).

If the camp counselor did indeed call "Jane" the "s" and "t" words in front of others, then it is more likely that the camp could be guilty of defamation.

But there may be a damages problem.

How Is This Worth $600K?

In order for a court to consider a case for defamation or infliction of emotional distress, there must be a calculable amount of damages that flows from the injury.

While "Jane" was likely upset over her being yelled at and kicked out of camp, if there aren't any financial losses from medical bills or serious psychiatric problems stemming from the incident, then a jury or judge may have a hard time estimating compensation.

If that happens, then "Jane" may just have to take a cue from Kelly Clarkson (especially "What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger") and tough this out the old fashioned way.

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