Personal Injuries – Part 2

On Church Premises or During Church Activities

Church Law and Tax 1989-09-01 Recent Developments

Personal Injuries – On Church Premises or During Church Activities

A Louisiana state appeals court upheld a trial court’s dismissal of a lawsuit filed against a church by a member who was injured when she fell on a church stairway. On the day of the accident, the member and a friend were preparing breakfast in the church kitchen for a youth recreational event. In the kitchen was a doorway leading to an outside staircase consisting of three steps to the ground. The member picked up an ice chest with the intention of standing in the doorway and emptying the contents to the side of the staircase. When the member stepped through the doorway she fell forward down the staircase and landed on the ground. She sued the church, arguing that the staircase violated city code since the top step was allegedly more narrow than the bottom two steps and the staircase did not have a handrail. The court concluded that even if the church had violated the city code, the member “loses because she was contributorily negligent. [T]he fact is she stepped through a doorway, with her vision at least partially obscured by the ice chest she carried, missed her step, and fell. Reasonable prudence required her to be more careful …. She had no right to assume that there was a place to land her foot because she could not see where she was going.” The absence of a handrail, and the width of the top step, in no way contributed to the member’s injuries, the court concluded. Richard v. Church Insurance Company, 538 So.2d 658 (La. App. 1989).

See also Child abuse, Dunn v. Gracia, 768 P.2d 419 (Ore. App. 1989).

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