State senator blasts Dems, trial lawyers for opposing Punkin’ Chunkin’ bill


A state senator blasted Democrats and trial lawyers for opposing a bill aimed at keeping Punkin’ Chunkin in Delaware.

“Today was a devastating blow,” Sen. Brian Pettyjohn R-Georgetown, sponsor of the bill stated in a press release issued Wednesday.  “I’m disappointed the Executive Committee didn’t see fit to release this bill, and I’m even more disappointed it failed on a party line vote.”

The Delaware Trial Lawyers Association  denied it was trying to kill the event.

Engaging in productive dialogue, offering legal expertise and working to resolve differences is at the core of DTLA’s mission. DTLA supports keeping this event in Delaware and returning it to Sussex County,” the group stated in a release. ” Any suggestion that this proposed law, which places arbitrary caps on damages and denies citizens access to Delaware’s highly regarded court system, will keep an event in Delaware (or bring this one back to Sussex County) is wrong. Further, any suggestion that DTLA’s efforts will force the event to leave Delaware is unfounded political spin. Passage of this bill would have made special events in Delaware less safe for patrons and participants, and that is a proposition which DTLA strongly opposes. The Delaware Trial Lawyers Association is grateful that members of the Delaware Senate Executive Committee took steps yesterday to preserve the safety of everyone who attends Delaware’s many special events,”

All four Democrats on the committee voted against the measure, Pettyjohn said.

The popular event was held at a Sussex County farm, but the property owner no longer wanted to host the event after an injured volunteer filed suit in 2013.  The trial lawyers group said a meeting was held in 2014  and the group worked to keep the event in Sussex.

The event was later moved to the  Dover Downs site in Kent County, but was abruptly canceled amid signs of an internal struggle with the group organizing the event.

Pettyjohn said his bill would extend the same protections Punkin’ Chunkin’ and similar events would receive in neighboring Maryland.

“We’re talking about an event that had a $15,000,000 economic impact on Delaware,” Pettyjohn stated. “We’re talking about an organization that gave about $100,000 to charities in Delaware and $50,000 in scholarships to local schoolchildren. This is an organization that has done nothing but good for Delaware and we’re kicking them out of the state.”

“There were several occasions where I asked to speak with somebody from the Trial Lawyers Association regarding the bill and their concerns and all I got was silence from them,” he said. “They painted several gloom and doom scenarios, none of which are reasonable.”

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