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Court: Mormon Church, Members Not Liable In Injury


JAHS

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http://www.deseretnews.com/article/765642646/Court-Mormon-church-members-not-liable-in-injury.html

 

"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its members cannot be held liable for injuries suffered by a child on a church-organized outing in Idaho six years ago, the Idaho Supreme Court ruled.

Justices said there was no special duty of care owed by the defendants to then-13-year-old Heidi Beers of Meridian before she suffered a compound fracture of her ankle while jumping off a bridge into the Payette River."

 

The court made the right decision but is there a time when the church could or should be held liable for something that  happens to a kid on a church sponsored activity? I suppose it might depend on whether it was just an accident or an  obviously dangerous situation that was created by the organizers. 

 

 

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http://law.justia.com/cases/idaho/supreme-court-civil/2013/39319.html

 

Good for the court. People like this are just plain creepy.   How they could put people through this over a broken ankle is disgusting when they chose to let their daughter go but didn't want to themselves. However, her grandfather was there so why the parents think the others had more responsibility is interesting.  The river they were jumping into was checked for safety by the adults.  But she jumped outside of the checked area. 

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In the admittedly unlikely event that anyone is **** enough to want to read the Court's opinion:

 

http://www.isc.idaho.gov/opinions/39319beersopn.pdf

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We had a bishop in the Salt Lake area whose wages were garnished because of a lawsuit --- from another ward member. His wife was watching a mentally handicapped child, and the child climbed on their fence and fell, hitting his head. I always thought that that intra-ward dynamic had to be weird.

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Especially when they hadn't even bothered to speak to anyone about watching her in the first place or even tried to get her a ride themselves or speak to the woman giving it when Heidi asked her friend.

And there was no testimony that they had instructed Heidi to obey any instructions from any ward member or anything else they told her.

"There is no evidence that any of the Ward members had such a relationship with Heidi. None of them can be said to have had custody of Heidi at any time during the campout, let alone at the time of her injury. Heidi’s parents did not speak to anyone regarding her attendance at the Ward campout."

And there was no mention in the court case about the grandfather's involvement. Got to wonder why the parents didn't have him testify...or sue him as the most likely presumptive guardian.

They sued parents whose only connection was that their kids were at the bridge...with that reasoning, they should have been responsible themselves.

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I find it sad though that if someone had been more proactive about watching the kids even if the parents hadn't asked them to, that it appears the suit might have been successful. The parents didn't ask and couldn't have known that someone would assume the duty of watching her. It seems unfair that if someone was worried enough to notice she was on her own and took her under their care, that would make a legal difference...or so it seems from how it was written up. If so, someone would be legally penalised for being more charitable and loving by assuming responsibility when they didn't have to.

If someone had been watching and told Heidi not to jump there and moved to stop her but she disobeyed them, would they have been responsible or would they have been seen as not exercising actual control over her? What if she had followed other instructions from them, but not this one?

Perhaps a lawyer could make it clear if this is so?

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I can't believe they were trying to sue individual ward members.

This comes with the usual caveat: I am not a lawyer.  I just play one here on MD&DB. ;)  It has to do with the way litigation works (even if it seems to "work" b@$$ ackwards sometimes). Say you have friends who are in positions of responsibility at a company, and you feel the company (not necessarily your friends) has committed an actionable wrong against you and you want to sue. Generally, you can't just name ACME Company as a defendant and leave it at that (at least, not if you want to recover any damages).  As disagreeable as this prospect is, you'd have to name the actual person responsible for the wrong (even if it's one of your friends) and, usually, someone in each layer of management in order to be able to name the company itself.  For example, you may need to name one of your friends for the conduct that injured you, his supervisor, the vice president, and the president in order to finally get to "the deep pocket" of the company itself.    

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In the link Ken gave, one of the members was the HP leader who was ranking because bishopric couldn't make it, iirc. I think one may have been in YMs.

But the ward activity was over with by the time it happened.

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I don't think I would have thought to be more proactive watching her when her grandfather was on the trip. I think it would have just been natural to assume that he was the one responsible for her.

 

I can understand suing the individuals more than the Church though. What possible responsibility would the church have in taking care of your daughter? There just never seems to be any reasonable connection why the Church would have a duty to take care of someone after the Church activity is over for injuries that occured during a non-sanctioned activity.

 

Not to mention it was by luck a church member was there as a dr to treat her. I would have been grateful for the assistance. The last thing on my mind would have been suing the Church or the people there. And I am a lawyer.

 

One other thing bothers me. From what I can tell the extent of the injury was a broken leg. There doesn't seem to be anything more severe than that. I can't imagine the medical costs for that would be extraordinary. I could understand the law suit if the girl couldnt walk normally again, or lost the leg. But I can't imagine there would have been a big payday in the law suit. Even arguing emotional distress, I can't see it being enough to justify huge punative damages. It seems to me all the law suit does is create divisions in the ward. Which is quite sad.

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I don't think I would have thought to be more proactive watching her when her grandfather was on the trip. I think it would have just been natural to assume that he was the one responsible for her.

 

I can understand suing the individuals more than the Church though. What possible responsibility would the church have in taking care of your daughter? There just never seems to be any reasonable connection why the Church would have a duty to take care of someone after the Church activity is over for injuries that occured during a non-sanctioned activity.

 

Not to mention it was by luck a church member was there as a dr to treat her. I would have been grateful for the assistance. The last thing on my mind would have been suing the Church or the people there. And I am a lawyer.

 

One other thing bothers me. From what I can tell the extent of the injury was a broken leg. There doesn't seem to be anything more severe than that. I can't imagine the medical costs for that would be extraordinary. I could understand the law suit if the girl couldnt walk normally again, or lost the leg. But I can't imagine there would have been a big payday in the law suit. Even arguing emotional distress, I can't see it being enough to justify huge punative damages. It seems to me all the law suit does is create divisions in the ward. Which is quite sad.

A compound fracture of the ankle is more than a typical "broken leg."  It usually requires surgery and can take up to a year to be able to walk normally again.  The medical costs could easily be in the tens of thousands of dollars.

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