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Idaho Supreme Court rules against man injured in smock accident during Mormon cleanup project

By Dee Thompson | Jun 14, 2017

Medical malpractice 09

BOISE, Idaho (Legal Newsline) – The Supreme Court of Idaho has ruled in favor of a ruling for the Corporation of President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in a case of a Mormon man who sued the church over his knee injury, incurred when his smock caused him to fall down a hill during a cleanup project.

Bryan N. Henrie was part of the Paradise Ward in June of 2012 when a fire damaged a large area of the Charlotte Creek area of Pocatello. A community service group, the Mormon Helping Hands, conducted a cleanup operation of the area. 

On July 14, 2012, Henrie went to Century High School and checked in with the group and was handed a smock to wear over his clothes. He alleges he told the volunteer who handed him the smock that it was too big, but was informed there were no more smocks. Henrie testified that he was told he had to wear the smock to participate in the cleanup.

Henrie spent the day taking down burned trees and throwing them down an embankment for disposal. The opinion of the court notes that “Later that day, Henrie was attempting to throw a tree stump down the embankment when it caught on his smock. He was pulled down the embankment by the stump, severely injuring his right knee in the process.”

Henrie filed suit against the Mormon church on July 11, 2014, alleging that it owed a duty of care to supply him with a smock that would fit him properly. The church filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that it could not have foreseen the accident which caused Henrie’s injuries.

The court affirmed the granting of summary judgment to the church by the district court, concluding that “Henrie’s knee injury is not a foreseeable result of making Henrie wear a smock, even an oversized one for a cleanup project. Accordingly, we affirm the district court’s conclusion on summary judgment that no duty existed based on a lack of foreseeability.”

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