TV producer files suit against Punkin Chunkin, farm owner, TV network and state

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A television producer, who was severely injured when a cannon misfired during last year’s Punkin Chunkin event, has filed suit in federal court in Wilmington.

Suzanne Dakessian’s wide-ranging suit lists organizers of the event, the owners of the farm where the fall  Punkin Chunkin was held, cable network operator Discovery Communications and the Delaware Department of Natural Resources. DNREC inspected the cannon.

The suit seeks  a jury trial.

Dakessian was working for a production company that was taping the event for broadcast on one of Discovery’s channels.

The suit stated that Dakessian suffered permanent injuries that include the loss of one eye and an inability to work. She was in an induced coma for a time, due to severe head injuries, the suit indicated. 

The lawsuit, among other things, claims, that organizers failed to adequately test the cannons that can toss pumpkins a mile.

The action goes on to allege that the owners were in criminal possession of a weapon (the cannon itself).

The suit was filed by two New York City law firms and one based in Wilmington.

After operating for many years without any major incidents, Punkin Chunkin ended up with a lawsuit when a volunteer was injured. A settlement was later reached.

The event was not held for a couple of years, due to difficulties in obtaining insurance coverage, with the property owner in Sussex County no longer willing to host the event.

An effort to tailor Delaware law to more closely match Maryland statutes as a way to reduce liability risks failed to go anywhere in the General Assembly, due to the legislative opposition.

 There was talk of moving Punkin Chunkin to Maryland.

After an abortive effort to hold Punkin Chunkin at the Dover Downs complex, the event that attracts tens of thousands returned to Sussex County last year.

The once freewheeling event was more professionally managed last year, with controls over alcohol consumption.

The event is slated to be held this November, with organizers noting that Punkin Chunkin has contributed more than  $1 million in community and scholarship contributions, according to the group’s Facebook site. 

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) programs will be the recipients of this year’s proceeds.

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