Comments about ‘Court: Mormon church, members not liable in injury’

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Published: Monday, Dec. 2 2013 12:00 a.m. MST

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A Scientist
Provo, UT

"The justices upheld an earlier ruling by 4th District Court Judge Mike Wetherell concluding the church didn't have a special relationship with Beers that required it to keep her safe."

Good decision by the court.

I have always said, Churches not only have no power, authority, or "special relationship" to keep people safe, they also have no power, authority, or special relationship to provide salvation, exaltation, or anything else!

Eagle Mountain, UT

The parents sued because their daughter was dumb enough to jump off a bridge? What were the leaders supposed to do, catch her?

Fred Vader
Oklahoma City, OK

Hey! I actually agree with "A Scientist" for a change.

1. Good decision by the court."

2. Churches do not have "power, authority or special relationship to provide salvation, exaltation, or anything else." (Only God has the power, authority and special relationship to provide salvation, exaltation or anything else. Churches, in this case like the camping trip, are just the instrument through which God communicates His saving power, authority and special relationships)

Layton, UT

WOW. I can't believe they would sue over that.


I wouldn't automatically assume this outcome in Idaho would be the same in every other state. Other states might have different laws.

Parents need to be very careful about letting their children attend church outings. Sometimes there is not enough adult supervision or the "adults" supervising lack judgement and maturity. One of our children ended up with a broken arm--called us while on the outing complaining about his arm hurting. He only received a cursory exam and some Tylenol after he called us. No ace bandage, no sling or anything until he got back and we took him to an urgent care. I was horrified the next day when one of the "adults" supervising the activity told an "amusing" (in his mind) story about going off to do some skiiing with another adult and finding my son and another youngster at the top of a double-black diamond, alone, at the ski resort. (unfamiliar with the resort, they had accidentally gotten on the wrong lift).

There needs to be at least one adult specifically assigned to a small number of youth. Boating/water activities should have extremely close supervision.

Somewhere in Time, UT

Dear Spikey,

Some people will sue over anything!

Hyrum, UT

I've read enough of "A Scientist" past comments to various church related articles to know when he (or she) is or isn't being sarcastic with his (or her) particular anti-religion viewpoints.

But I do agree with A Scientist and Fred Vader in that it was indeed a good decision by the court. Any other decision would have only further promoted our already too widespread something-for-nothing mentality in society. Unfortunately, too many people try to abdicate any personal responsibility in trying to find somebody else accountable for any of their questionable decisions in life.

However, I do respectfully disagree about churches not having the power and authority to help people... regarding A Scientist's "or anything else" overly vague claim. Churches often help people with food, utility payments and/or other temporal needs when a person or family finds themselves temporarily in bad circumstances due to job layoffs, ill health or other extenuating circumstances.

They also provide social needs for many people, as well as that much needed and usually appreciated spiritual counseling.

If you actually were "a scientist", you would know that just saying something (your opinion) doesn't necessarily make something so.

Big Bubba
Herriman, UT

It does not look like the church leaders were intentionally negligent, thus this court case seems to be about getting a hand into the deep pockets of the church. Good call ISC!

Salt Lake City, UT

I always told my kids before they went on any church activities that they knew acceptable behavior and if because of them doing something stupid and getting hurt, there was no one to blame but themselves. Had the discussion many times of "if someone else is stupid enough to do it, do you also become as stupid to try it". Sounds like this was an affirmative from the girl. Hesitant so jumped in a safer place over a bridge truss, instead of following her instincts and saying no. Looks like it was her decision, not anyone's from the outing. I'm grateful there are people there to assist them and take them on outings, but the decisions they make are not the leader's responsibility.

Salt Lake City, UT

So if the law does not require a church leader "to act in such a way as to protect children from injury or exposure to dangerous conditions." Does that mean when our youth go on Church outings that the leaders can just turn their heads and let them do whatever they want? Sound like we would be putting our kids in considerable danger! That is what was implied in the ruling. While I don't think a church leader should be held responsible for an irresponsible act committed by a child, I do believe the leaders should and must try to prevent such acts.


Adults/leaders supervising activities should have some kind of training or review of potential hazards and basic first-aid.

For example, jumping off places over bodies of water can be hazardous. Did an adult survey the landing zone to make sure there were no hidden objects in the water? Perhaps the girl wouldn't have jumped where she did if an adult had been aware of the proximity to the bridge support. They could've guided her to a safer spot.

Falconer, NY

Inappropriate for "A Scientist" to change the subject and interject a doctrinal error but in this case it exposes his/her misunderstanding of what LDS or religious doctrine is. If one does not understand, one becomes cynical.

Now that we understand "A Scientist" perhaps we can be more compassionate towards him/her.

Falconer, NY


"I do believe the leaders should and must try to prevent such acts."

Really? Then let's cancel all activities and play Nintendo with Meckofahess.

Hyrum, UT

@ Meckofahess:

The article gave only a brief synopsis of the court ruling. One would need more detail to make a more objective and definitive analysis.

But from the limited information given, my take is that the court is saying some common sense must prevail. The Church was not being negligent by not "holding the hands" of all participants throughout all the activities involved. A normal amount of adult supervision was given and aid immediately available should an accident happen... which it did... and which was.

The young adults participating were just that... young adults (teenagers) and not little children. They are required to assume a certain level of responsibility for their own actions. If not, then these types of organized activities would soon cease altogether and our youth would then miss out on a lot of wonderful life experiences... albeit with a certain amount of risk involved.

The reward-risk ratio is considered acceptable. Otherwise, very few parents would let their kids participate. Some of my fondest memories in younger years involved these types of activities with friends.

May they continue for many others and for many years to come.

Highland, UT


Well I have no doubt that whatever church leaders you happen to align with are only to happy to leave your kids home with you, I know I would be. We've never had an outing in our ward where the leaders weren't requesting that parents of the youth come along and assist. My guess is you are one of the ones that never goes along to assist and then whines about how everyone else isn't watching your kids for you then coming over to mow your lawn after they get home after spending 2 days entertaining your kids.

Why don't you get up off the couch and go help supervise rather than pontificating on what everyone else should be doing because you think that is how it should be.

Plano, TX

Never jump into un-checked waters. Ever. I have 2 friends whose lives are forever changed because of it. One, a broken neck leaving him paralyzed from the neck down and another with so many plates and screws in their leg it's impossible to do more than stand and walk slowly.



Thank you for the kind response.

You are wrong, of course, in your judgement.
We were new to that particular ward and the outing was all planned and arranged by the time we arrived on the scene.
Throughout the lives of our 3 children we were the parents who often served as chaperones, for church and school outings, and had leadership callings in both the Scouts and YM/YW programs as well.

(Btw the idea of suing the church for our son's injury never even crossed our mind. We paid the medical bills for his treatment.)

Mchenry, IL

If your child got hurt on a school field trip your health insurance would require a law suit to the school and perhaps the venue. For the school to cover the damages. And most schools carry insurance on students should a mishap happen. They do. In sports, on the playground. I don't see how a church activity is any different. And the family cooperation would be expected by the insurance company. There is pressure to do the activities. If you don't you are a bad parent because they can't feel the spirit if they don't hike in the woods at girls camp. The child got hurt. Didn't mean they did anything wrong. Didn't mean the adults did anything wrong. People get hurt. But it happened while she was in their care. I don't think the individual chaperons are responsible for the bills caused he church decided that they would be the leaders for the activity. What kind of church doesn't see to the care of a child hurt on their watch when an injury occurs? Seems contrary to the message.

Murray, Utah

So the Idaho courts have decided that a church outing/activity has no more merit or responsibility to the youth and their family than the kid heading over to a sleep over. Why then should a parent? Hoping this helps parents get over the idea that just the thought of it being a "Church sponsored" activity makes it any safer than any other activity....parents need to make sure that whatever safety standards they think are important are in place before releasing their kids for these activities.

Salt Lake City, UT

Best wishes for the girl.

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