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Liability for a Child's Drowning Death

Any swimming activity involving young children present significant risks.

Minnesota
State:
Key point: Any swimming activity involving young children presents significant risks. Churches can be legally liable for a child's death or injury on the basis of negligent selection and training of workers or negligent supervision of the event.

• A Minnesota court ruled that a school was legally responsible for the drowning death of a 7-year-old boy during a school field trip. The victim and his child care class went swimming at a pond maintained by the county. The pond is six feet deep, has a gradually sloping sand bottom, and no drop-offs or unusual currents. Although the pond water is filtered, it remains cloudy, making it possible to see only about one foot below the surface. The swimming area is not roped off based on swimming ability. On the day of the drowning there were five lifeguards on duty, supervised by a head lifeguard. Thirty-seven children went on the field trip, ...

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Richard R. Hammar is an attorney, CPA and author specializing in legal and tax issues for churches and clergy.

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Posted:
  • March 1, 1994

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