Helton v. Forest Park Baptist Church

589 S.W.2d 217 (Ky. Ct. App. 1979)



Under Kentucky law, the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur is inapplicable when the instrumentality producing the injury or damage is unknown or is not in the exclusive control of the defendant. Res ipsa loquitur applies only where the thing shown speaks of negligence of the defendant and not merely the occurrence of an accident. The doctrine does not apply where the existence of the negligent acts is not more reasonably probable and where the proof of occurrence, without more, leaves the matter resting only to conjecture. 


Parents brought an action to recover for personal injuries their minor child sustained to her eye when cared for by the church and church trustees within church premises and under adult supervision. The brought action under the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur. None of the witnesses knew how the accident happened or of any dangerous conditions in the nursery. The trial court granted summary judgment against the parents' claim for personal injuries and in favor of the church and its trustees. The case was appealed. 


Are the church and its trustees liable for the injury of the minor under the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur?




The court affirmed the judgment of the trial court. The court held that the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur did not apply as there was no evidence that the accident occurred as a result of any instrumentality under appellees' control and there was insufficient evidence to support an inference that the accident resulted from negligence.

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