• 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.
Negligence as a Basis for Liability
* A New York court ruled that a school was not responsible on the basis of negligent supervision for an injury to a child because no amount of supervision would have prevented the accident. An 11-year-old child was injured while playing “freeze tag” in a school yard. The accident occurred when the child tripped and struck her face on a clamp which held in place the support pole of a jungle gym. The girl’s parents sued the school, claiming that it was responsible for their child’s injury on the basis of negligent supervision. A court disagreed: “It is undisputed that four employees of the school were supervising the children at the time of the accident. There is no indication that the supervision by the school of the 11-year-old child was inadequate, nor that a reasonably prudent parent would have stopped the infant plaintiff from playing the game of freeze tag. Moreover, there is no indication that more intense supervision could have averted this accident.” Therefore, the claim of negligent supervision had to be dismissed.
Application. It is common for persons who are injured on church property to claim that the church was responsible for their injuries on the basis of negligent supervision. As this case demonstrates, negligent supervision will not serve as a basis for liability if reasonable supervision was being provided at the time of an accident, and if more intense supervision would not have prevented the accident from occurring. Lemos v. City of Poughkeepsie School District, 749 N.Y.S.2d 88 (N.Y. Super. 2002).
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