Wrongful death lawsuit filed in Maine hayride tragedy

AUGUSTA, Maine, July 6, 2016 — The Berman & Simmons law firm has filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the parents of a teenager who died when a haunted hayride toppled over in the fall of 2014.

Cassidy Charette, 17, was an honor student and standout athlete at Messalonskee High School in Oakland, Maine. On Oct. 11, 2014, she and some friends went to “The Gauntlet” at Harvest Hill Farm, a popular haunted hayride attraction in the town of Mechanic Falls. Cassidy died when a 1979 Jeep and the wagon it was towing went out of control and flipped while traveling down a hill. Several others were injured.

Attorneys Jodi Nofsinger and Daniel Kagan of Berman & Simmons filed the civil lawsuit today at Kennebec County Superior Court on behalf of Cassidy’s parents, Randy and Monica Charette. The defendants are Harvest Hill Farm, Inc., and four other corporate entities affiliated with the farm; as well as farm owner Peter Bolduc, Jr.; driver of the Jeep, David Brown; and mechanic Philip Theberge.

The lawsuit seeks compensation for damages including conscious pain and suffering, funeral expenses, pecuniary loss, emotional distress, loss of comfort, society and companionship.

Criminal charges related to the crash were filed last summer and remain ongoing, separate from the civil lawsuit. Harvest Hill Farm faces felony charges of manslaughter, aggravated assault, and driving to endanger. Maine law allows criminal charges to be filed against a company or organization, with convicted companies subject to fines. Jeep driver David Brown, and mechanic Philip Theberge face misdemeanor reckless conduct charges.

An investigation by the state Fire Marshal’s Office, parts of which were made public last year, concluded the Jeep’s brakes were not functioning properly at the time of the crash, and the vehicle was hauling more than double its intended towing capacity.

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Statement from Monica and Randy Charette, Cassidy’s parents, regarding the wrongful death lawsuit

The absence of Cassidy in our lives will never heal with time, accountability, compensation, or conviction. Nothing can bring her back. The civil lawsuit we filed today is an opportunity for education and change. If it can raise awareness that will prevent even one family from enduring such an unfathomable loss, then the lawsuit is necessary and worthwhile.

Any financial compensation we receive will be thoughtfully used to extend into the world the love and compassion we know Cassidy would have given, if she were here.

In that spirit, and with support from family, friends, and our community, we are establishing the ShineOnCass Foundation. This public charity will not only sustain, but will propel Cassidy’s spirit, her hopes and dreams, far into the future.

Cassidy was unique in the way she shared genuine kindness with everyone around her. Very early in life, she found her passion was simply, and humbly, caring for others. We are heartbroken for her many friends, and most especially her brother, Colby, whose future with his only sibling and best friend will never be. What we are all left with are cherished memories and wonderment of all Cass would have become, and the lives she continues to positively influence with her own.

Cass wrote her own legacy, by the words she chose, the actions she took and the love she shared.

Her legacy will Shine On.

Members of the media seeking more information should contact attorney Jodi Nofsinger at Berman & Simmons. 207-784-3576; jnofsinger@bermansimmons.wpengine.com.

Cassidy Charette

Cassidy Charette