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Rock-Climbing Fall Nearly Paralyzes Girl, Resulting in $1.45M Settlement

For many, summer camp is an exciting time to enjoy new outdoor activities. Children gain memorable experiences because they trust the staff to look after their well-being. However, a church-camp instructor overseeing a rock-climbing area delegated the task of belaying climbers to four inexperienced children, when it should have been someone with special certification. As a result, a 17-year-old girl named Jenny fell and was nearly paralyzed. Ted Wacker of TBW Law attained a $1.45M settlement for Jenny using an animation of the event and her subsequent damages.

Jenny reached the top of the wall and rang the bell, signaling the belayers below to let her down. At the bottom of the wall, four children in a line gripped the rope — Jenny’s lifeline — with their bare hands. The three children in the back of the line began letting slack out the rope to lower Jenny. But the child in front, not knowing how to proceed, continued holding on to the rope. Suddenly, the child in front let go of the rope, causing it to slip and burn through the other children’s hands. Jenny plummeted to the ground from 50 feet and broke her spine.

First responders airlifted Jenny to a hospital where radiologists identified fractures to her thoracic and lumbar vertebrae. Doctors performed an emergency spinal fusion surgery, removing bone fragments from around her spinal cord before placing metal rods and screws into her back. Miraculously, while she would experience limited mobility for the rest of her life, she made a substantial recovery. Still, the question remained: why did the camp instructor and her church allow children to be responsible for her safety?

Jenny’s parents contacted Ted Wacker to represent her against the church and camp, seeking compensation for their daughter's injuries. Ted performed over 25 depositions and gathered his evidence, including incident reports, scene photos, and medical imagery. He retained a rock climbing and mountaineering expert who agreed that the Defendants’ actions were unsafe. Even more damning, he unearthed that the child who let go of the rope suffered a motor disability.

Both the church and the camp filed a motion for summary judgment. Ted prevailed, successfully showing that both parties were grossly negligent for entrusting unqualified children with Jenny’s life. As he prepared for trial and organized his mountain of evidence, he expected difficulty describing what happened with only words and pictures. Thus, he shared his evidence with DK Global.

DK Global created an animation detailing the Defendants’ liability and Jenny’s resulting injuries. The presentation explained that the camp instructor was supervising two different rock walls. Consequently, he assigned the four young campers with Jenny’s safety. It depicted how, when Jenny was ready to descend, the unqualified child in front let go of the rope and the resulting crash to the ground. Finally, Jenny’s skeleton came into view, showing the complex fractures that nearly severed her spinal cord.

After several unsuccessful mediations and two years of litigation, Ted prepared for trial, waiting to be assigned a courtroom. The Defense called, offering to settle the case for $400,000, but Ted refused. After some negotiation, Ted finally agreed to settle the case for $1.45M.

For over 25 years, trial attorney and Golden Advocate Award winner Ted Wacker has represented the victims of catastrophic injury cases. A member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, Ted has also been recognized as a "California Super Lawyer" and a “Top Trial Attorney” by The National Trial Lawyers.


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"DK Global pays attention to the details. As much as I had to take the depositions, they had to review the depositions to make sure the animation was as close to 100% accurate as we could possibly get, and they did an outstanding job."
Ted Wacker – TBW Law




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Although the facts and outcomes presented in this email are intended to be true and accurate, they represent the reporting of a unique matter and do not imply or guarantee any type of result or outcome for matters in which DK Global is involved.
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