Send Luncheon 2022: The Fine Print
Indemnity agreements are probably a lot more common than the average person thinks they are. We often agree to terms and conditions for websites, phone apps, or even amusement parks and baseball games without even thinking about the fact that we’ve given away the right to pursue a legal claim.
I’m willing to guess, however, that most people who go to register for the 2022 NAMB Send Luncheon during the SBC’s annual meeting in June would not expect to sign an indemnity agreement like the one they’ll find on the registration website (the full text is reproduced at the end of this post).
Having read more than a few such agreements/contract clauses myself (and having helped to write similar ones), much of the language strikes me as boilerplate, i.e., language carried over from another document rather than written from scratch. For instance, this sentence comes at the end of the third paragraph (apologies for the all caps, but that is how it appears in the original):
“I SPECIFICALLY UNDERSTAND AND ACKNOWLEDGE THAT SUCH RISKS MAY RESULT IN DAMAGE, INJURIES, OR DEATH TO MY PERSON OR PROPERTY OR TO THE PERSON OR PROPERTY OF OTHER PARTICIPANTS OR VOLUNTEERS, AND I KNOWINGLY ACCEPT AND ASSUME SUCH RISKS.”
Now, is it likely that participating in the Conference activities will lead to “damage, injuries, or death“? Almost certainly not. But clauses like that one show up in all kinds of indemnity agreements and lawyers (not unreasonably) rely on what has worked for them (or other lawyers) before. Likewise with the parts that give permission to use video/photos and state that the agreement can only be amended in a writing signed by both parties (although, as an aside, a Georgia choice of law clause for an event taking place in California seems, err, hopeful).
The second paragraph bears some closer attention. Here it is (emphasis mine):
“Attendee Registration and Admission Policy. NAMB, in its sole discretion, reserves the right to accept or decline an individual’s registration for any event. Further, NAMB reserves the right to prohibit entry or to remove any individual, whether registered or not, whose conduct is not in keeping with the character and purpose of the Conference. Without limiting the foregoing, NAMB reserves the right to remove or refuse entry to anyone who has registered or gained access under false pretenses, provided false information, or for any other reason whatsoever that NAMB deems is cause under the circumstances.”
Is NAMB expecting an especially rowdy crowd for the Send Luncheon this year? Do they expect to have a substantial problem with people registering “under false pretenses”? Granted, I’m not in a position to know the answers to those questions; I’m sure the organizers of the event have information that I do not and they may even be privy to information that is available to no one else at all. Nevertheless, based on conversations with messengers who have attended previous SBC annual meetings and other NAMB events, the appearance of this indemnity agreement seems to be a clear departure from past practice.
To be sure, event organizers do not want those who are intent on disrupting an event to register and think they have some kind of legal sanction for their misbehavior. But think about how NAMB has (intentionally or otherwise) set this up: they can deny registration to anyone for any reason with no explanation, they can deny entry to someone based on a highly-generalized standard of conduct, and they can have any person removed from the event for “any other reason whatsoever.”
SBC messengers, surely, will want to give NAMB the benefit of the doubt here, but one could not blame the messengers for asking NAMB what specifically led the event organizers to think such a broad gatekeeping clause was necessary in the first place. Just don’t try to ask that question during the luncheon or you may find yourself on the outside looking in.
Full text of indemnity agreement.
NAMB Conference Release and Indemnity Agreement
For and in consideration of the registered Participant (the “Participant”) being permitted to participate in the NAMB Conference Activities described herein, for the efforts of the “Released Parties”, as defined below, in coordinating the NAMB Conference Activities described herein, and for other good and valuable consideration, the receipt and sufficiency of which is acknowledged, I, as the Participant, for and on behalf of myself and my “Participant Representatives”, as defined below, acknowledge and agree as follows:
Attendee Registration and Admission Policy. NAMB, in its sole discretion, reserves the right to accept or decline an individual’s registration for any event. Further, NAMB reserves the right to prohibit entry or to remove any individual, whether registered or not, whose conduct is not in keeping with the character and purpose of the Conference. Without limiting the foregoing, NAMB reserves the right to remove or refuse entry to anyone who has registered or gained access under false pretenses, provided false information, or for any other reason whatsoever that NAMB deems is cause under the circumstances.
Knowing Acceptance of Risks. I am knowingly, intentionally, and voluntarily participating in certain ministry and conference activities (“NAMB Conference Activities”) with others, and such NAMB Conference Activities may include, but are not limited to, ministry training, team building, ancillary leisure activities, traveling to and from various locations in furtherance of such activities, and lodging with one or more other participants engaged in such activities. I am primarily responsible for payment of my own expenses and for providing my own personal insurance coverage. I further specifically understand, acknowledge, and knowingly assume the following actual or potential hazards, perils, dangers, and risks inherent in or associated with participation in the NAMB Conference Activities (collectively, the “Risks”): (i) the NAMB Conference Activities may at times be arduous; (ii) the NAMB Conference Activities may be supervised and performed by volunteers, ministry leaders, or third parties over whom the Released Parties have no supervisory control; (iii) vehicles transporting participants or volunteers may be operated by licensed volunteers or others, who may or may not be professional drivers; and (iv) such Risks may include, but are not limited to, accidents while in or operating motor vehicles, while in or about assigned living, sleeping, and eating areas, or during either ministry or leisure activities of the group with whom I am participating in the NAMB Conference Activities. NAMB is not responsible for lost or stolen possessions. NAMB does not assume responsibility for damage or loss of any personal property or possessions prior to, during or following the NAMB Conference Activities. I SPECIFICALLY UNDERSTAND AND ACKNOWLEDGE THAT SUCH RISKS MAY RESULT IN DAMAGE, INJURIES, OR DEATH TO MY PERSON OR PROPERTY OR TO THE PERSON OR PROPERTY OF OTHER PARTICIPANTS OR VOLUNTEERS, AND I KNOWINGLY ACCEPT AND ASSUME SUCH RISKS.
General Release and Indemnity. I do hereby waive, release, and forever discharge from liability the following parties: all persons on the ministry team or group with me, those who notified, selected, or assigned me to the team or group, The North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, Inc. (“NAMB”), Send Relief, Inc., any and all persons, conventions, associations, churches, or other entities with whom NAMB coordinates or organizes all or part of the NAMB Conference Activities, any and all of their respective past or present parent entities, subsidiaries, divisions, affiliated entities, successors and assigns, and any of their respective past or present officers, directors, shareholders, members, managers, employees, agents, representatives, trustees, or insurers (collectively, the “Released Parties”) from any and all charges, complaints, claims, liabilities, obligations, promises, agreements, controversies, demands, damages, actions, causes of action, suits, rights, costs, losses, debts, and expenses of any kind whatsoever (based upon any legal or equitable theory, whether contractual, common law, statutory, federal, state, local, or otherwise), whether known or unknown, suspected or unsuspected, which I ever had, now have, or may hereafter acquire, which in any way relate to or arise from, in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, my participation in the NAMB Conference Activities, without regard to the cause(s) thereof or the negligence of one or more of the Released Parties. I further agree to indemnify and hold harmless the Released Parties against any and all charges, complaints, claims, liabilities, obligations, promises, agreements, controversies, demands, damages, actions, causes of action, suits, rights, costs, losses, debts, and expenses of any kind whatsoever (based upon any legal or equitable theory, whether contractual, common law, statutory, federal, state, local, or otherwise) which may result from or be brought on account of my negligence or which otherwise relate to or arise from, in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, my participation in the NAMB Conference Activities.
Photo and Video Release. I hereby grant the Released Parties permission and rights to edit, copy, exhibit, publish, distribute, or otherwise use my image, likeness, and sound of my voice while participating in the NAMB Conference Activities, as recorded in photographic, audio, video, or other format, without limitation or restriction and without payment, royalty, or any other consideration. By registering to participate in a NAMB event, you waive any right to inspect or approve the use of images, recordings, or any written copy.
Binding Agreement. This Conference Release and Indemnity Agreement (“Agreement”): (i) is binding upon the Participant and Participant’s parents, guardians, agents, representatives, executors, heirs, next of kin, administrators, beneficiaries, successors and assigns (“Participant Representatives”); (ii) contains the complete expression of the agreement between the Participant (for himself/herself and the Participant Representatives) and the Released Parties with respect to the subject matter hereof, and may be amended or waived only in writing signed by the undersigned and the Released Parties’ representative(s), or their successors; (iii) is to be construed and interpreted under Georgia law, without regard to conflicts of law; and (iv) shall not be strictly construed against any party in favor of any other. If any term or provision of this Agreement is determined by a court to be unenforceable, the remaining terms and provisions of this Agreement are to remain in full force and effect and are to be enforced to the maximum extent allowed by applicable law. I have read and fully understood this Agreement prior to completing my registration, and I, on behalf of myself and my Participant Representatives, enter the same willingly and knowingly for the purposes stated above, as of the registration date.