The Liability Thing in Reality in Open Discussion - Program Posted January 25, 2011 Beavah - I think you're right, that the BSA generally does support its volunteers very well in a number of legal situations. However, I have to believe that the BSA's and individual leaders' liability is managed by the extensive training offered through the BSA and other organizations. I'd also like to think that discussions such as the ones on this forum and elsewhere, in which volunteers are directed away from plans or ideas that may be harmful, also play a role in reducing personal liability. However, there are a couple of points I want to make. Firstly, and to be quite blunt, I can't believe that you were able to use those terms to describe the situation in Florida with a straight face. I'm not sure how you consider it to be a "mild annoyance" to be dragged through the legal system for months to years over the death of a youth under your supervision. Regardless of the end result of that mess - whether or not the leaders are found to be liable at all, being dragged through a legal mess like that is no small matter. True, eventually the dust will settle, and they will "move on," but the process between now and then is much more than a minor inconvenience. Second, sometimes "liability" and "legal liability" are not the same thing. In other words, a bad idea can have consequences other than legal action, fines and jail time. This is where I get frustrated while reading threads about a potentially bad idea. Eventually, someone will mention something about legal liability, and someone else will post something saying "nah, you probably won't go to jail for that," and then the discussion stops being about whether the actual idea is good or bad, and turns into a discussion on the chances of being sued, or being held liable. Well, here's the thing: even if you decide that its unlikely that you'll do any jail time, all of those possible consequences that got you thinking about liability in the first place: injury, death, property damage, hurt feelings, etc - all of those are still legitimate concerns that need to be addressed independently of perceived legal liability! Maybe a good rule of thumb is that if you're spending a lot of time researching and discussing the possible legal ramifications of a given event, maybe it would just be a good idea to plan on doing something else instead. I don't know enough about the Florida situation to speculate as to whether it was handled appropriately, but pretend for a minute that the tragic death of a Scout could have been prevented with additional training, or better planning or preparation. Even if the individual leaders aren't found to be liable in a court of law, or penalized through the legal system, there's still the issue of having a Scout die in a situation that could have been prevented. In my humble opinion, it may be better use of all of our time if we "armchair lawyers" stepped away from the legal issues and instead focused on topics that we have more direct knowledge of - like planning events that are safe just for the sake of them being safe. Then, hopefully, we'd have less need to involve actual lawyers in our Scouting lives.