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Church Not Liable for Injuries Sustained by Teen at Youth Event

Case demonstrates the difficulty of proving negligence claims for injuries caused by “open and obvious” hazards unless concealed by a distraction such as darkness.

Last Reviewed: March 11, 2021

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.” ...

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  • April 30, 2019
  • Last Reviewed: March 11, 2021

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