Recent Developments

Issues that affect ministers and churches
Liability for Off-Site Activities
Several factors determine whether an organization is liable for injuries off church property.

A Florida court ruled that a church was not liable for catastrophic injuries suffered by a student enrolled in the church's private school, who became intoxicated at an off-site school party and slammed into a tree while driving home. This case is important, since it addresses a common question—the liability of a school or church for injuries occurring during off-site activities.


Several students at a church-operated secondary school (the "School") received cards inviting them to an "end-of-the-year party" at the home of two of the students. On some of the cards a bottle of liquor was faintly visible in the background. The cards were not prepared or distributed by the school, its faculty, or administration.

On the morning before the party, the school principal brought the two students (brothers) hosting the party at their home into his office so he could question them. The students told him that their parents would be at the party as chaperones.

School was dismissed for the year at noon on the last day of classes. Students began to arrive at the home where the party was to take place between 1 and 1:30 p.m. The mother of the "hosting" students arrived at the home sometime between 1:45 and 3:30 p.m., but went to her room and stayed there with the blinds drawn. Her husband joined her. Neither parent called the police or attempted to stop the party at any time.

Alcohol was consumed in the house and in cars. One student (the "victim") and a classmate, though minors, had obtained two twelve-packs of beer and a bottle of vodka from a convenience store and arrived at the party at 2:30 p.m. The victim and the classmate drank in the victim's car for an hour, and then went into the party with the remainder of their alcoholic drinks.

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