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Article posted: 2/23/2013 8:00 AM

Three sue for injuries during severe storm at Cougars volunteer event

By Harry Hitzeman

Two St. Charles East High School seniors and a recent Northern Illinois University graduate have sued the Kane County Cougars and a catering company, arguing they were negligent in their response to a severe storm that blew through the Geneva stadium in August 2012.

According to the lawsuits filed in Kane County this week, sisters Mary and Abigail Gaffney, along with Erin Gautille, were injured by flying debris as a result of a storm the afternoon of Aug. 4 during a volunteer event at the team's stadium.

Their attorney, Robert Bindle, said the team and catering company knew or should have known an approaching storm posed a safety risk and failed to take action, such as moving volunteers to a safe area.

Bindle said Mary Gaffney was hospitalized and still feeling the effects of a head and brain injury.

Abigail Gaffney, a senior at St. Charles East, sustained bruises to her leg.

Gautille, also a senior, suffered a broken right wrist, elbow and fractured ribs and is set to have surgery next week.

The Kane County Forest Preserve also is named as a defendant because it owns the stadium, Fifth Third Ballpark.

Pat Kinnally, an attorney representing the district, said he could not comment on the matter because the district had not yet been served with the lawsuits.

"We are not aware of any legal issues pertaining to our organization and if there were, we would not be at liberty to discuss (them) with the public," Cougars spokesman Shawn Touney wrote in an email.

A message left with Professional Sports Catering LLC was not returned.

Each of the three lawsuits seeks damages in excess of $50,000 and a jury trial.

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