• Key point. National churches cannot be responsible for injuries occurring in the course of a local church's activities unless it has the authority to control those activities.
The Utah Supreme Court ruled that the local and national offices of the Boy Scouts of America were not legally responsible for a scoutmaster's negligence. A boy scout troop conducted its weekly meetings in a church. One evening, following a scout meeting, the scoutmaster's 13-year-old son asked if he could drive home. The scoutmaster agreed, and sat in the front passenger seat while his son drove the car. As the car left the parking lot, three scouts on roller blades grabbed onto the back of the car. The scoutmaster shouted to the boys to let go, but they just laughed at him. He then instructed his son to "drive slowly." About one block from the church, one of the boys fell when he tried to move from the back to the side of the car. The rear right tire of the car rolled over his head. The victim's parents later sued the local and national BSA offices, claiming that they were responsible for the scoutmaster's negligence in allowing his son to drive the car. The parents relied on the following evidence: