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Miami-Dade County, FL

The plaintiff’s decedent was a 15-year-old junior and member of the football team at the defendant’s private school. The minor decedent drowned in August, ________, when he attempted to swim from Key Biscayne to an offshore sandbar where a boating regatta was taking place. The plaintiff alleged that two of the defendant’s football coaches – who attended the regatta – were agents of the school and negligently failed to supervise the decedent. The defendant school argued that the regatta was not in any way connected to the school or the football team, the coaches were not in the course and scope of their employment at the time, and the defendant had no duty to supervise those attending the regatta.

Evidence showed that the decedent – along with several teammates and two football coaches – attended a boating regatta off Key Biscayne on August 18, ________. The boats were gathered at a sandbar located just offshore from a house formerly used by ex-president, Richard Nixon, in Key Biscayne. Testimony indicated that the young decedent was driven from the regatta to the shore by boat to meet friends, and then, because the boat had left, he attempted to swim from a helicopter pad at the old Nixon house some ________ yards back out to the regatta. The owner of the boat, which had transported the decedent, was named as a defendant but was dismissed on summary judgment.

The three friends, who were swimming back to the regatta with the decedent, stated that he developed a cramp and attempted to turn back to shore. However, the decedent went under the water, and, when his friends could not locate him, they called “________.” The decedent’s lifeless body was retrieved by coast guard divers approximately an hour later. The decedent was transported to the emergency room, but resuscitation efforts were unsuccessful.

The decedent’s mother testified that the only reason she allowed her son to attend the regatta was because he told her that the defendant’s coaches would be present and watch him. The plaintiff maintained that the regatta was a football outing and that the coaches were acting as agents of the defendant school, and were negligent in their supervision of the decedent.

The defendant’s coaches denied that they made any promises to supervise the regatta, and argued that the coaches happened to be attending the social event just like all the other guests and were not acting as agents of the defendant school at the time.The jury found that the two coaches were not in the course and scope of their employment, and did not undertake a duty to provide supervision for the decedent. The jury also found that the event was not a school-related event. Thus, a defense verdict was entered.

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