The Kansas Supreme Court ruled that a student who was rendered a permanent quadriplegic as a result of injuries sustained while playing football for a church-operated high school could not sue church officials for failing to obtain adequate insurance coverage.
The victim alleged that the school and church officials had been negligent in "failing to properly insure students for injury incurred as a result of school activities and in failing to properly advise and inform students and their parents … of the insurance protection provided to students."
In rejecting this claim, the court cited a state law making the purchase of liability insurance coverage by public schools discretionary rather than mandatory. Such a law, reasoned the court, applied "by implication" to private schools as well. Since private schools were not required to purchase insurance, they could not be liable for failure to have enough coverage to cover catastrophic losses.
"We feel sympathy for the severe injuries suffered by this plaintiff," concluded the court. "However, there are dangers and risks inherent in the game of football and those who play the game encounter these risks voluntarily. It is fundamental that before there can be any recovery in tort there must be a violation of a duty owed by one party to the person seeking recovery …. It is clear under the facts of this case that no … duty existed to properly insure or to advise the plaintiff regarding medical insurance purchased by the defendants for the plaintiff." Wicina v. Strecker, 747 P.2d 167 (Kan. 1987)