Key point 10-11. A church may be legally responsible on the basis of negligent supervision for injuries resulting from a failure to exercise adequate supervision of its programs and activities.
An Ohio appeals court ruled that a church was not liable, on the basis of negligent supervision, for the choking death of a minor while attending a church camp, since such an accident was not reasonably foreseeable. A minor (the "victim") died from choking and asphyxiation while attending a church camp. It was his 18th birthday. The victim's mother sued the church, claiming that it was responsible for her son's death based on its negligent supervision of the church camp. She claimed that her son had asked her if he could attend the camp, and that she had met with the church's youth pastor to discuss the camp. She specifically asked him about supervision during the camp and was told "not to worry about it, we will take good care of him, he is a good kid." The mother thereafter agreed to let her son attend the camp. While at the three-day camp, the victim called his mother on his 18th birthday and said, "Hey, mom, I'm a man now, I'm 18." His mother reminded him that because he was born at 5:06 p.m., he was not "fully a man until 5:06."
Later that day the victim's mother received a phone call informing her that her son "had an accident," and was told to call the local police. The police connected her with a hospital, and a doctor informed her that her son had died after being found "hung with a belt" at the camp. The doctor gave her no indication that her son's death was a suicide. The first time she heard anyone mention suicide was when she went to the hospital to identify her son's body and a nurse offered her condolences and said, "Suicide is a hard thing." The suggestion of suicide made the mother "irate" because it "was never his nature," as he was "happy-go-lucky," and not depressed.