Key point 10-06. A church may be legally responsible on the basis of negligent selection for injuries resulting from the acts of a minister or other worker not involving sexual misconduct.
Negligence as a Basis for Liability
The Iowa Supreme Court ruled that a school could be sued by the father of a ninth-grade boy who had been sent home alone on a bus after being caught smoking a cigarette in a hotel room while on an out-of-town school band trip. It is every youth pastor's nightmare to have a minor on an out-of-town trip who flagrantly violates the rules. In some cases, minors are sent home. Such a decision may expose a church to legal risk, no matter how justified it may seem. Consider a recent case involving a public school in Iowa. The school adopted a "zero tolerance" policy concerning students' use or possession of tobacco, alcohol, and drugs. A ninth grader was caught with cigarettes while on an out-of-town school band trip in Texas, and was taken to a Greyhound bus station at midnight and placed on a bus for the trip home. The trip included stops and layovers in Dallas, Tulsa, Kansas City, Des Moines, and Iowa City. A teacher remarked that "if we hadn't acted on it, I'm afraid that we would have had other rules broken, possibly more serious rules, possibly more serious consequences."