·  Legal News, Analysis, & Commentary

Lawsuits & Litigation

Wrongful Death Suit Against Camp Besco Can Proceed to Court, Appellate Justices Rule

— October 27, 2021

The Camp Bisco music festival is at the center of a wrongful death lawsuit after a patron died back in 2016.

Earlier this week, Albany Appellate justices ruled that a wrongful death lawsuit against “organizers of the Camp Bisco music festival in Duanesburg” can move to trial. The suit was filed by the mother of a camper who died at the camp, Heather Bynum. According to her mother, Deborah Bynum, Heather was only “24 when she attended the festival at Indian Lookout Country Club in Mariaville on July 12, 2012.” After consuming a “mix of drugs and alcohol, she had a seizure, ceased breathing, and suffered irreversible brain damage that left her comatose and helpless.” She ended up passing away on May 6, 2016.

Graphic of gavel on polished desk; image by Vanna44, via
Graphic of gavel on polished desk; image by Vanna44, via

On Thursday, the Appellate Division of state Supreme Court’s Third Department ruled 5-0 to uphold an “upheld a lower court ruling by acting Supreme Court Justice Vincent Versaci, who last year denied a motion from the festival’s organizers to dismiss the suit brought by Deborah Bynum.” When commenting on the decision, Jason A Frament, the attorney for the Bynum family, said Mrs. Bynum was “extremely happy that we can finally present this case to a jury and hold those people responsible for their part in what happened.”

Deborah filed the suit back in 2013, arguing that Camp Bisco’s “lack of emergency services and inability to provide prompt treatment delayed her daughter’s care and caused her injuries and, later, her death.”

This wasn’t the first time Camp Bisco came under legal fire. For those who don’t know, Camp Bisco is an electronic music festival that takes place every year. It is sponsored by The Disco Biscuits, a band based in Philadelphia. It came under scrutiny after reports of “patrons being hospitalized or arrested because of drugs and alcohol.” 

During the litigation process, Frament argued that the festival “was a free-for-all and that drug use and drug overdoses at Camp Bisco were not only foreseeable. They were inevitable.” 

Matthew J. Kelly, a lawyer representing Camp Bisco, requested the Third Department to dismiss the suit. He claimed “Heather Bynum and her fiance, Ronald Elwertowski, smuggled illegal drugs onto the property, split 30 cans of beer, 10 doses of ‘Molly,’ a purer form of Ecstasy, and used pot in less than nine hours.” He also told the judges “that some 26,000 people attended the festival over three days that year and noted the number of attendees never reached the level of needing a doctor.”

He further claimed Camp Bisco was not legally responsible for Heather’s death and said:

“I think that the court’s opinion failed to note that (Heather Bynum) was the one who smuggled in her own drugs and that therefore she was the sole proximate cause of her injuries and I expect that a jury will find that way.”

When announcing the ruling earlier this week, the appellate court stated:

“Taking into account the known history of drug use at the festival, a question of fact exists regarding whether adequate security to curtail drug use at the festival was provided…In view of the fact that it was reasonably foreseeable that drug use would occur during the festival and the competing expert proof on the issue of proximate cause, (Camp Bisco’s) claim is without merit.”


Wrongful death lawsuit against Camp Bisco can go to trial

Ruling: Lawsuit in Camp Bisco death can go to trial; Schenectady woman died, attended 2012 Duanesburg festival

Join the conversation!