Punkin Chunkin: DE Liability Cap Bill Could Halt Possible Move - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

Punkin Chunkin: DE Liability Cap Bill Could Halt Possible Move

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GEORGETOWN, Del. - Three days a year, tens of thousands of fans flock to Bridgeville witnessing fruit in flight.

But next year, Punkin Chunkin may pack up it's machines, no longer calling Sussex County home.

"There's a lot of discussion about the viability of Punkin Chunkin the fact that they might move to Maryland," said Sussex County councilman Vance Phillips.

One reason for the possible move, a push for legislation including an insurance liability cap. Right now, the globally known event faces a lawsuit from a former volunteer who suffered spinal fractures back in 2011.

State senator Brian Pettyjohn (R-District 19) says this bill would resolve any suit that could happen in the future.

"If they currently buy $5 million worth of insurance and someone sues them $6 million in a lawsuit, that million dollar gap if they found them to be liable it can be placed on the land owner," said Pettyjohn.

But the clock is ticking. Punkin Chunkin told legislators a bill needs to pass by March when they will start planning for next year's championships.       

"It's vital for tourism and economic development in Delaware and hopefully we can to get this bill through very quickly," said Pettyjohn.

Delaware currently does not have an insurance liability cap, while one of the proposed new sites, in Maryland, does. Pettyjohn says he's looking at similar numbers and plans to have a bill out by January.

Meanwhile, Sussex County council voted Tuesday to give $1,72- back to the event after charging them more than $12,000 in EMS and paramedic costs due to a new county law.

Back in August, the county passed a special event policy charging large-scale events like Punkin Chunkin for using public safety services.  

Phillips, who granted the event $720, says the county "loves Punkin Chunkin," calling it their "signature event."

WMDT spoke with Sussex County administrator Todd Lawson about the policy change.

"It's about fairness. I don't think if you talk to the taxpayers of the county that any taxpayer wants to subsidize this type of coverage for EMS," said Lawson. "It costs us money to have our equipment there or personnel there and all we're asking to do is be reimbursed, just that.

"This is not a moneymaker for the county, certainly, and events like Punkin Chunkin, we don't want to see them leave the county ,that's no one's desire. However, I'm told that it's not about the cost of public service it's about the liability with their insurance.

"I would ask, 'is $12,000 going to make the Punkin Chunkin event leave the county?' I doubt it very seriously."

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