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Liability Case Study: Homecoming Float Incident

Scenario

A member of a sorority was injured while climbing onto the sorority’s homecoming float. The member was walking along side the float along with fourteen other members.  The float was towards the back of the parade and was starting to fall behind. The walkers were instructed to board the float to speed up the procession. It is our understanding that a police officer may have been the one who told the women to board the float. While the member was boarding the float, the driver accelerated. The member’s foot became entangled in the wheel where her body became locked in the axle of the trailer. It is alleged that the member was drug for 110 feet. The member suffered severe and permanent injuries due to the accident. The member’s medical bills are in excess of $300,000.

A lawsuit was filed naming the University, the City, the driver of the float and the Sorority. An investigation is ongoing.  The young man who drove and owned the truck and the trailer in which the float was built on has liability limits of $100,000. There was not a contract in place with the driver of the truck. The current reserve is $400,000. This reserve may change as additional facts are discovered.

Issues to discuss

  1. How do your policies address events such as the one described above? What policies were broken in the above described claim? What policies would have prevented this claim from happening?
  2. What additional risk management policies should have been in place to minimize the likelihood of a claim like this happening again?