TAMPA — Seven years after a skiing accident on a church trip cost a young man the use of his left foot, a jury has awarded a nearly $5 million judgment in his favor and against Idlewild Baptist Church.
Then 14 years old, the boy travelled in 2003 to North Carolina on the Lutz church's annual ski trip.
He had never skied before. His mother relied on Idlewild — of which they'd been members for 10 years — to act as a surrogate parent on the out-of-state trip, the victim's attorney, Damian Mallard, said Wednesday.
But the teen did not receive ski lessons or instructions and no chaperone or ski partner stayed with him, according to the lawsuit.
Mallard's client wandered over to an expert slope and crashed into another skier at 55 mph.
He suffered spinal injuries and nerve damage to his leg that left him with a permanent limp, leg atrophy and a drop foot, Mallard said.
The jury found the boy's mother 5 percent responsible as well, meaning Idlewild would be accountable for $4.75 million.
The victim, who was a minor at the time, was not named. The church did not return a call Wednesday seeking comment.
Mallard said the seven-day trial included a parade of witnesses, some of which testified that Idlewild did not have one chaperone for every 10 minors as his client's mother was told.
Now 21, the young man lives out of state.
"We hope this verdict will help other kids be protected in the future," Mallard said.