ALBANY – A lawsuit filed in the wake of a Schenectady woman’s death following her attendance at the 2012 Camp Bisco festival can proceed to trial, an appeals court ruled Thursday.
The Third Department Appellate Division found a local Schenectady County judge ruled properly that the lawsuit could proceed. Attorneys for the festival had appealed after losing their initial bid to essentially have the suit thrown out.
The appeals court found that there were multiple issues that a jury must sort out in the case. The woman’s estate argues the festival violated its duty to minimize foreseeable dangers and that the operators failed to follow regulatory requirements.
The lawsuit involves the death of Heather Bynum, who was 24 at the time of the 2012 festival at the Indian Lookout Country Club in Duanesburg.
While there, “after reportedly ingesting a harmful substance,” Bynum had a seizure, became unconscious and entered a coma from which she never awoke. She died in 2016.
Bynum’s mother, Deborah Bynum, filed a lawsuit against Camp Bisco in 2013, alleging the organization was negligent in failing to prevent the use of illegal drugs on festival grounds, and that contributed to her daughter’s coma. After Bynum died, the estate successfully argued to add wrongful death to the causes of action in the lawsuit.
Among the appeals court’s findings was that records and deposition testimony conflicted over whether it took more or less than a required 15-minute threshold for access to a physician.
The court also found that security questions existed, whether drug sales were curtailed or allowed, based on who testified, and whether adequate security was provided.
The attorney for Bynum’s estate, Jason A. Frament, hailed the ruling and said his client is “extremely happy” that they will be able to present their case to a jury.
“This has been going on for a long time and we’ll finally get our day in court,” Frament said.
Camp Bisco attorney Matthew J. Kelly indicated, while they disagree with the ruling, they are prepared to fully defend the case.
Kelly said he now expects the case to go to trial in late 2022 or early 2023.
Camp Bisco was an electronic music festival held annually at the Duanesburg property from 2007 to 2014. It drew thousands of fans each year and was known for its drug use and party scene. In 2012, in addition to Bynum having her initial seizure, a festival staffer died of an apparent drug overdose.
The festival ended its run in Duanesburg after the 2014 concert. Neighbors’ opposition to the festival had grown, and amid questions about its planning and finances, Schenectady County denied the event a mass gathering permit in 2015.