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Great American Alliance Insurance Co. v. Windermere Baptist Conference Center, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Central Division

October 23, 2017

WINDERMERE BAPTIST CONFERENCE CENTER, INC., et al., Defendants. LODGING INFORMATION Lodging Type Start End Nights Units Cost Total Minimum Total for Lodging: $71, 137.50 $56, 910.00 Facility/Room Start End Cost



         In June 2014, Karlee Richards and her Searcy Baptist Church youth group were attending a summer camp at the Windermere Baptist Conference Center, which was sponsored by Lifeway Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Conference, d.b.a. Student Life.[1] While at the camp, Karlee was injured after she fell while zip-lining at The Edge, a ropes course at Windermere's Conference Center. The Richards subsequently sued Windermere and Kendra Brown, who worked at the Edge at the time of the incident, for the injuries that Karlee sustained.

         This declaratory judgment action filed by Great American against Defendants, Windermere, Brown, and the Richards, principally concerns whether a Great American insurance policy provides insurance coverage for Windermere's and Brown's potential liability in the pending state court action. Mr. Richards is Karlee's father and represents her in the state court action.

         The Great American Commercial General Liability policy in dispute is No. GLP 0-31-01-89-01, which was issued to Student Life by Great American. Windermere is an additional insured on that policy. The additional insured endorsement provides that Windermere is only covered for “liability arising out of the ownership, maintenance or use of that portion of the premises leased to [Student Life]” by Windermere. Doc. 35-17, p. 1 (“Endorsement”). Great American contends that Windermere is not entitled to coverage for Karlee's injuries because Windermere did not “lease” the Edge to Student Life because the Edge was not specifically mentioned in Student Life's written agreement with Windermere.

         The Court previously denied Great American's motion for summary judgment on its duty to indemnify under the policy.[2] See Doc. 54. Defendants have now filed their own motions for summary judgment on the issue of indemnification. Docs. 56 and 58.[3] The Court grants the Defendants' motions for summary judgment.

         I. Undisputed Facts[4]

         a. The Student Life Camp at Windermere

         Windermere Baptist Conference Center is a large Conference Center on the Lake of the Ozarks with over 300 acres and 126 buildings, including group lodging, a dining hall, conference space, cabins, a chapel, and a gift shop. Windermere also offers various recreational facilities and activities at its campus, including the Edge. Organizations like Student Life use Windermere's facilities for summer church camps.

         Student Life had been conducting church camps at Windermere for about ten years prior to its June 2014 camp. In January 2014, Student Life and Windermere executed an Amended Conference Contract. The “Amended Conference Contract” provides, in relevant part:

Amended Conference Contract
Event Name: Student Life #1 '14 (June 2-6, 2014)
Expected #: 1000
Arrive Date: Saturday, May 31, 2014 (Check in begins at 3:00 PM. Rooms may not be available until 6:00 PM. . . .)
Depart Date: Saturday, June 7, 2014 Lodging Check out time is 11:00 AM. Keys must be turned in by this time. . . .)
Lodging Type

Per Person (Student Life Extra)


Per Person (Student Life Extra)


Per Person (Student Life ' 14)

1, 000
$70, 000
Total for Lodging:
$71, 137.50
$56, 910.00
You will need to provide Windermere a rooming list (names of individuals occupying each room) and a copy of your conference or retreat schedule at the time of check-in. . . .
Minimum Total for Meals: $76, 570.00 $61, 733.00
All guests eating in the dining hall must have a meal ticket or wrist band to be admitted into the Dining Hall. . . .

Wilderness Creek Auditorium (1500)

6/1/14 8:00am
6/6/14 12:00pm

Deer Ridge Conf Rm 1 (30)

6/2/14 3:00pm
6/6/14 12:00pm
Use of conference space and facilities begins at the start time stated in the contract. Conference or facility space usage time ends at the time stated in the contract and must be empty of all guests and guest items. . . .
Estimated Total Payment $147, 707.50
Total Minimum Payment $118, 643.00 . . .
Property Damage/Abuse
The above named group will have financial responsibility for any damages and excessive wear and tear it incurs to the Windermere grounds, facilities or property to the extent that such damage or excessive wear and tear arises from the negligence or willful misconduct of the above named group. Cleanup of any facilities or grounds that are excessively dirty will be the financial responsibility of the group.

Doc. 35-5 (“Amended Conference Contract”).

         The Amended Conference Contract does not identify every building or activity that was available to campers during Student Life's camp at Windermere. For example, the chapel, which is made available to any group attending a camp at Windermere, is not listed. In addition, the dining hall is not specifically listed under the “Conference Space Information” heading, despite the Amended Conference Contract listing a price for meals Windermere is to provide. See id.

         In addition, it is undisputed that Windermere offered various recreational activities to its guest campers, including those who attended the Student Life camp. Windermere also offered some special recreational activities that required an additional fee and reservations. The Edge was one such activity. The Edge, a ropes and zip-lining course, is not accessible to campers at Windermere without special scheduling, the purchase of tickets, and the execution of a “Recreational Release” form.

         In addition to the Amended Conference Contract, Student Life also completed a Facility Request Form, and Windermere completed a Fax Back Response Sheet. Docs. 40-3 and 40-4. The Fax Back Response Sheet provides, in relevant part:

         Student Life Camp Windermere Conference Center

What are some free-time options on your campus?
. Sand Volleyball, Outdoor Basketball, Tennis, Mini Golf, Disc Golf, Pool, Hiking, The Edge (low/high ropes course), Paintball, Waterfront Activities (Inflatable water park, kayak, canoe, paddle boats, fishing, etc) ...

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