John M. Ballenger (73363.2157@COMPUSERVE.COM)
Tue, 19 Sep 1995 17:27:00 EDT
Some of the recent posts here (re liability of unregistered adults and
ownership of assets) have raised again in my mind the question of the
relationship between the various "entities" involved in scouting and the
liability of each to the public, to each other and to the scouts.
I'm not planning on suing anyone, nor am I promoting litigation, but my Troop
asked me (as an Assistant Scoutmaster who is also an attorney) to give a
report on liability issues - and I found the topic to be considerably more
complex that contemplated.
Here are some of the questions on my mind:
1) Is a Troop an unincorporated association for purposes of liability?
2) Can a Troop be sued?
3) If suit is brought for personal injury caused by negligence, is every
member of the Committee and every registered scouter affiliated with the Troop
a potential defendant?
4) Is the Chartering Organization sued (rather than or in addition to, the
5) Under what circumstances is the BSA sued (as opposed to the Troop, the
Chartering Organization or the Troop leadership)?
5) Who maintains insurance (BSA, Council, Chartering Organization) and who
is covered by the insurance?
6) Should the Troop maintain insurance?
7) Can a Troop incorporate (as a nonstock corporation) so as to minimize
cross-liability (in the event the Troop is considered an unincorporated
association), or is that prohibited?
8) Does anyone have a suggested disclaimer of liability clause which he
feels effectively minimizes liability?
9) Is a broad disclaimer of liability prudent when there is insurance
available to cover negligence? For example, if Wife is injured in an
automobile accident due to Husband's negligence, Wife will want to be able to
sue (or file a claim against) her Husband (as nasty as that sounds) in order
to recover from the Husband's insurance policy for medical expenses and pain
and suffering. If Wife had signed a disclaimer, and if that disclaimer were
effective, then the insurance company might be the ultimate beneficiary - and
the wife would be stuck with the medical bills and no compensation for pain
and suffering. You can apply this analogy to the scouting family rather
Is there any responsible reference material on these questions? Is there a
file which could be downloaded which addresses these matters?
I know that some of you have personal experience. I saw one post reporting a
$9,000 expenditure for legal fees for only peripheral involvement in scout
related litigation, and another post about a $10,000 expenditure for a single
deposition. I would think that, on the one hand, we would all like to
minimize personal exposure and expense but, on the other hand, not deny the
benefits of insurance coverage to someone who is injured through negligence.
E-mail from: John M. Ballenger, 19-Sep-1995
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City