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Churches' Liabilities for Minors' Drowning Deaths

A court found a seminary legally responsible for a boy's death.

• A Pennsylvania state appeals court ruled that a seminary was responsible for the drowning death of a 12-year-old boy. The victim was swimming with a group of altar boys from a Catholic church at a seminary-owned pool. The victim's mother sued the seminary, alleging that it had been negligent in allowing the boys to use the pool without a qualified lifeguard on duty. At the time of the drowning, the pool was under the supervision of a priest. The jury concluded that both the seminary and church were negligent, and it awarded more than $1 million in damages. The seminary appealed, and a state appeals court upheld the jury's award. The court observed that "it is clear that [the evidence] was sufficient to support the jury's finding that the seminary had breached a duty owed to the minor decedent. The seminary, as owner of the pool, had a duty to exercise those precautions which a reasonably ...

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  • May 1, 1991