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 Illinois court ruled that a church was not liable for injuries sustained by a 13-year-old boy who fell 25 feet from a platform in a tree at the home of a church member during a bonfire activity sponsored by the church’s youth group. A church’s youth ministry conducted a bonfire at a church member’s home. The homeowner had previously constructed a platform in a tree from which he had removed the upper branches and foliage. The platform was about 25 feet above the ground, and was reached by a ladder tied to the tree. The platform had a rail around it, but no other fall protection.
The platform had a triangular hole in it, and through the hole, was a metal “fire pole.” The pole was made out of sprinkler pipe, was affixed in concrete at the base, and was 3½ inches in diameter. The surface of the pole had oxidized. The ground around the pole was grass covered, and no force-absorbing material, such as sand or wood chips, had been placed around the bottom of the pole.