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First impression issue on 'in loco parentis' doctrine

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Until Friday, Indiana courts had never specifically addressed the application of the in loco parentis doctrine in the context of a private club sport that isn’t affiliated with a school. The Indiana Court of Appeals addressed the issue in a lawsuit against a private club volleyball coach and the volleyball club following the injury of a minor player while on private property.

In Kevin A. Griffin and Maureen O. Griffin, et al. v. George E. Simpson, Team Indiana Volleyball, Inc., et al., No. 18A02-1009-CT-1064, parents Kevin and Maureen Griffin sued the grandparents of one of their daughter’s teammates, the teammate’s mother, the daughter’s volleyball coach, and the private volleyball club after their daughter B.G. was injured falling off a golf cart. During a long break between matches in Muncie, B.G., some other teammates, and coach Becky Murray, went to the home of George and Sharon Simpson to pass time before the next match. B.G. went to the home after being invited by her teammate’s mother while B.G.’s father drove back to Indianapolis to watch another child’s sporting event.  

Murray, who was pregnant at the time, went upstairs in the Simpsons’ home to nap while some of the players rode around in a golf cart on the Simpsons’ property. Despite warnings of only allowing the Simpson’s granddaughter to drive and to not drive up a certain hill, three girls went where they weren’t supposed to go, and B.G. flew out of the cart in an accident and was injured.

The trial court granted Team Indiana Volleyball and Murray’s motion for summary judgment, that as a matter of law, Murray owed no duty to B.G. while the team was on break.

The appellate court examined the in loco parentis doctrine with respect to Murray, and held it didn’t apply to her under the facts of this case. B.G.’s father gave permission for B.G. to attend after the teammate’s mother invited her. There’s no evidence that B.G.’s father even knew whether Murray would be there or supervising the girls, as she had originally planned on staying at the tournament to watch matches before feeling ill. Because of this, Kevin Griffin couldn’t have entrusted B.G. to Murray’s care during the break between tournament sessions, and Murray didn’t demonstrate any intent to assume parental status or undertake an affirmative duty regarding B.G. during the break, wrote Judge Terry Crone.

The Griffins also asserted that Murray gratuitously assumed a duty to supervise the players by giving them instructions regarding which activities were permissible at the Simpsons’ home during their break. But it was the Simpsons, as the property owners, and the two other parents as the organizers of the impromptu visit to the Simpsons’ home, who were responsible to instruct and supervise the girls during their outdoor activities, wrote the judge.

“In sum, the impromptu gathering was not a ‘team event,’ and Coach Murray was merely a guest whose attendance was due to a last-minute change of plans when she was presented with an invitation that included the opportunity to nap,” he wrote. “As such, she no more deliberately and specifically assumed a duty to supervise B.G.’s golf-carting activity at Mr. and Mrs. Simpson’s house than she would deliberately or specifically have assumed the obligation to dress a player in warm clothes during winter or put her to bed early on the night before a match.”

The judges also held because Murray didn’t commit the tort of negligent supervision, then respondeat superior cannot apply against Team Indiana Volleyball.
 

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  1. People have heard of Magna Carta, and not the Provisions of Oxford & Westminster. Not that anybody really cares. Today, it might be considered ethnic or racial bias to talk about the "Anglo Saxon common law." I don't even see the word English in the blurb above. Anyhow speaking of Edward I-- he was famously intolerant of diversity himself viz the Edict of Expulsion 1290. So all he did too like making parliament a permanent institution-- that all must be discredited. 100 years from now such commemorations will be in the dustbin of history.

  2. Oops, I meant discipline, not disciple. Interesting that those words share such a close relationship. We attorneys are to be disciples of the law, being disciplined to serve the law and its source, the constitutions. Do that, and the goals of Magna Carta are advanced. Do that not and Magna Carta is usurped. Do that not and you should be disciplined. Do that and you should be counted a good disciple. My experiences, once again, do not reveal a process that is adhering to the due process ideals of Magna Carta. Just the opposite, in fact. Braveheart's dying rebel (for a great cause) yell comes to mind.

  3. It is not a sign of the times that many Ind licensed attorneys (I am not) would fear writing what I wrote below, even if they had experiences to back it up. Let's take a minute to thank God for the brave Baron's who risked death by torture to tell the government that it was in the wrong. Today is a career ruination that whistleblowers risk. That is often brought on by denial of licenses or disciple for those who dare speak truth to power. Magna Carta says truth rules power, power too often claims that truth matters not, only Power. Fight such power for the good of our constitutional republics. If we lose them we have only bureaucratic tyranny to pass onto our children. Government attorneys, of all lawyers, should best realize this and work to see our patrimony preserved. I am now a government attorney (once again) in Kansas, and respecting the rule of law is my passion, first and foremost.

  4. I have dealt with more than a few I-465 moat-protected government attorneys and even judges who just cannot seem to wrap their heads around the core of this 800 year old document. I guess monarchial privileges and powers corrupt still ..... from an academic website on this fantastic "treaty" between the King and the people ... "Enduring Principles of Liberty Magna Carta was written by a group of 13th-century barons to protect their rights and property against a tyrannical king. There are two principles expressed in Magna Carta that resonate to this day: "No freeman shall be taken, imprisoned, disseised, outlawed, banished, or in any way destroyed, nor will We proceed against or prosecute him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land." "To no one will We sell, to no one will We deny or delay, right or justice." Inspiration for Americans During the American Revolution, Magna Carta served to inspire and justify action in liberty’s defense. The colonists believed they were entitled to the same rights as Englishmen, rights guaranteed in Magna Carta. They embedded those rights into the laws of their states and later into the Constitution and Bill of Rights. The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution ("no person shall . . . be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.") is a direct descendent of Magna Carta's guarantee of proceedings according to the "law of the land." http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/featured_documents/magna_carta/

  5. I'm not sure what's more depressing: the fact that people would pay $35,000 per year to attend an unaccredited law school, or the fact that the same people "are hanging in there and willing to follow the dean’s lead in going forward" after the same school fails to gain accreditation, rendering their $70,000 and counting education worthless. Maybe it's a good thing these people can't sit for the bar.

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