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American Family Mutual Insurance Co. v. Grim

Supreme Court of Kansas
440 P.2d 621 (1968)


Kirk Grim (defendant) and three other boys aged thirteen and fourteen gathered at one of the boys’ the homes to spend the night. Late that night, the four youths left the home intending to purchase soft drinks at a downtown gas station. However, one of the boys remarked that a nearby church had soft drinks in its refrigerator. The boys entered through an unlocked church door, but they found the door to the kitchen locked. Two of the boys went up into the church’s attic through a trap door, in an attempt to gain access to the church’s kitchen. Grim and another boy remained behind. While in the attic, the two boys found discarded paper material. Each boy rolled some paper, lit it on fire, and used it as a torch to light his way through the attic. The boys never gained access to the kitchen and left the church. However, unbeknownst to the four boys, some of the embers from the torches later sparked a devastating fire that destroyed the church. The American Family Mutual Insurance Company (AFMIC) (plaintiff) paid fire loss to its insured, the church. Subsequently, AFMIC filed an action in subrogation against Grim, seeking to recover a portion of the fire loss paid to the church. After a bench trial, the trial court entered a judgment in favor of AFMIC after finding that, despite Grim’s lack of awareness about the lighting of the torches, he was as liable as the other boys. The trial court concluded that Grim was jointly and severally liable and awarded AFMIC $25,000 in damages. Grim appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (O’Connor, J.)

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