The parents of a Fort Worth teenager who died on a Boy Scouts backpacking trip in West Texas in June have sued the Irving-based scouting organization, alleging that a lack of supervision and safety training led to their son’s death.
Reid Comita, 15, collapsed and died of a heatstroke June 12 while on a hike at Buffalo Trail Scout Ranch in the Davis Mountains.
His family filed a lawsuit against Boy Scouts of America in Dallas County on Aug. 18.
“The Boy Scouts of America are responsible for my son’s death,” Reid’s father, John Comita, told WFAA in an interview this week. “It’s that simple. They are responsible.”
My Take: Many people who have seen this headline may be wondering how the parents could be going after the Boy Scouts for what may seem like an accidental tragedy due to Heat exhaustion. However, there's much more to a suit like this. When you are paying an organization to supervise, monitor, or create a safe environment for your minor children, they have certain duties under the law. Negligence is defined under the law simply as "failure to do that which a prudent person would do in the same or similar circumstances." Under the law there are several elements of Negligence, 1) Duty 2) Breach 3) Proximate Cause and 4) Damages. When looking at this case under the lens of negligence and the 4 elements of negligence, it is easy to see how an organization like the "Boy Scouts" can be found negligent for certain sets of facts. Going through each element applying the facts of the above tragedy, I can demonstrate how the Parents can be successful on this claim. 1)Duty, this is an easy element to prove in this case because presumably the parents have paid money to the Boy Scouts to supervise their son in recreational outdoor activities. Boy scouts supervise activities like shooting guns, building fires, hiking mountains etc. It is hard to believe or to argue that the Boy Scouts do not owe a duty to parents to supervise or monitor their children when they are participating in these activities. 2) Breach, this is most likely the heart of the argument for both sides, did the Boy Scouts fail to properly supervise the parent's son or fail to train staff in some way that amounted to a breach of a duty? Plaintiffs will argue that there was a breach. Most likely that their minor child was taken on a hike he shouldn't have been taken on due to inexperience, that Boy Scout staff were not properly supervising their minor child, or adequate safety precautions were not taken like taking enough breaks or bringing enough hydrating liquids. Boy Scouts will argue there was no breach, that they followed protocal, and that this tragedy was an accident. 3) Proximate cause, the parents will have to prove that the death was caused by Boy Scout's breach of their duty. Likely, that had Boy Scouts properly supervised their son, taken more breaks, made sure he was properly hydrated, or simply did not allow him to go on such an intense hike being inexpereinced in hiking, he would not have died. Boy Scouts will argue that any alleged breach did not cause the death but instead the heat exhaustion was a product of unforseen circumstances or simply an unpreventable accident. 4)Damages, damages are easy to prove in this case because the minor child is now deceased and the parents will have many damage claims as a result. These cases are complicated cases and both sides fight very hard. They often go on for years before a resolution is reached. However, if the parents of the minor child meet the 4 above elements, they will recover under the law and be successful in their claims.
Our firm handles many cases like the one above where organizations promise to supervise minors in exchange for payment from the minor's parents. This creates a duty. When these organizations breach a duty and a minor child is injured or otherwise damaged, there are remedies under the law. If you have any claims similar to the one above or have any questions, feel free to give us a call. 817-831-6100. These claims are not easy claims, and you need to hire qualified personal injury attorneys to help you.