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Child injured in fall from zip line not covered by camp’s insurer

Child on zip line

A Bible camp’s insurer is not liable for injuries suffered by a child who fell from a 50-foot-high zip line at a conference center used by the camp, says a federal appeals court in reversing a lower court’s ruling.

Karlee Richards and her youth group were attending a Student Life Bible camp, operated by an affiliate of the Nashville, Tennessee-based Southern Baptist Convention, at the Windermere Baptist Conference Center Inc. in Roach, Missouri, when a Windermere employee forgot to reconnect Karlee’s harness to the zip line’s tether, and she fell to the ground, according to Friday’s ruling by the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis in Great American Alliance Insurance Co. v. Windermere Baptist Conferenced Canter Inc.; Jeremy Richards; Karlee Richards.

Litigation ensued as to whether the Bible camp or the conference center bore financial responsibility for Karlee’s injuries. Student Life’s insurer, Great American Alliance Insurance Co., a unit of the Cincinnati-based Great American Insurance Group, filed suit in U.S. District Court in Jefferson City, Missouri, seeking a declaration it was not liable.

The District Court ruled Windermere was covered by Great American’s Student Life policy as an additional insured, which was overturned by a unanimous three judge appeals court panel.

Student Life’s insurance policy covered Windermere as an additional insured only if its liability arose out of the ownership, maintenance or use of that portion of the premises leased to the camp, said the ruling.

The panel ruled it did not. “Karlee’s accident only ‘arose out of’ Student Life’s use of the leased premises in the sense that she would not have used (the zip line course) but for her attendance at Bible camp,” said the ruling.

“Nothing about the ‘use’ of these areas caused the accident or made it more likely to occur,” it said. “This means that that connection here is only a ‘temporal and/or spatial one,’ not one ‘originating from’ or ‘having its origin in’ Student Life’s use of the leased premises,” said the ruling, in citing earlier cases and reversing the lower court’s ruling.

Attorneys in the case could not immediately be reached for comment.



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