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Student Organization Liability Case Scenarios. Dr. David A. Hoffman Assistant Dean of Student Affairs Office of Citizenship and Community Standards Mr. Kevin Bollinger Area Coordinator Residential Living. Scenario A.

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student organization liability case scenarios

Student Organization Liability Case Scenarios

Dr. David A. Hoffman

Assistant Dean of Student Affairs

Office of Citizenship and Community Standards

Mr. Kevin Bollinger

Area Coordinator

Residential Living

scenario a
Scenario A
  • Your organization decides to hold the “Blowout” party of the semester. The organizers decide to charge a $5 entry fee to cover the entertainment. You have four of the best local and regional bands lined up for the event beginning at 8 p.m. Friday till 2 a.m. Saturday. The party organizers also plan to have several free kegs of beer available for the attending guests. The organization has rented a farmer’s “excellent” large pole barn for the event that can accommodate approximately 500 people.
scenario a questions
Scenario A Questions
  • Does this violate any of the Proscribed Student Organization Conduct Rules?
    • 8. Alcohol and Drug Related Misconduct. Missouri law prohibits possession or consumption of alcoholic beverages by those under the legal drinking age and prohibits making alcoholic beverages available to persons under the legal drinking age.
    • 8.2  The sale of alcohol is prohibited.
    • 8.4  The unlawful (a) manufacture (b) possession, (c) use, (d) sale, (e) distribution of narcotic or other controlled substances, (f) drug p paraphernalia, and/or (g) other chemicals is prohibited. Each organization shall take all necessary steps to see that this regulation is not violated at functions it sponsors as well as on any property it owns, operates, and/or rents.
  • Does your organization have legal liability concerns for this event?
    • Yes, selling liquor without a license for starters!
  • What risk management issues should the student organization officers be concerned about?
scenario b
Scenario B

Your organization hosts a party at its house along with another student organization. Organization risk management protocol requires that it be a BYOB event and appropriate steps have been taken so that students check-in their alcohol with one of your trained members in the designated refrigerator/location until those guests ask for it (the alcohol is tagged with their name for identification).

As an officer of the organization, you later notice one of the guests is extremely intoxicated, having trouble standing, and is groping some of the women from the co-sponsoring organization. You confront the individual along with one of your designated party security personnel about his behavior and ask the individual to leave. He refuses to do so. You also learn from one of the women that he has groped that this is his first year at Truman and he reported having a blast during Truman Week when he attended several off-campus parties.

scenario b questions
Scenario B Questions
  • Do you call the police on this guy?
    • Yes
  • Should you report his behavior to the Dean of Student Affairs Office?
    • Yes
  • If you are a Greek organization, do you report this behavior to the Greek Life Office?
    • Yes
scenario b questions6
Scenario B Questions
  • Does this incident suggest that your organization violated any of the Proscribed Student Organization Conduct Rules?
    • 2. Disorderly Conduct. No student organization shall:
    • 2.1 Act in a manner that can reasonably be expected to disturb the academic pursuits or infringe upon the privacy, rights, privileges, health or safety of (a) students, (b) the University community, or (c) local community.
    • 2.2 Obstruct the (a) free movement of other students around the campus, (b) interfere with the use of University facilities, or (c) prevent the normal operation of University.
    • 2.3 Condone or encourage such acts of physical assault, including sexual assault.
scenario b questions7
Scenario B Questions
  • 8. Alcohol and Drug Related Misconduct. Missouri law prohibits possession or consumption of alcoholic beverages by those under the legal drinking age and prohibits making alcoholic beverages available to persons under the legal drinking age.
  • 8.3 No organization shall furnish or cause to be or allow to be furnished any alcoholic beverage to any person in a state of noticeable intoxication.
  • 8.5  Each student organization shall take all necessary steps to see that no person under the legal drinking age possesses any alcoholic beverages at (a) functions it sponsors as well as within any (b) property or (c) transportation it owns, operates, and/or rents.
  • 14. Social Events.
  • 14.2 Failure to provide adequate security personnel or other security measures in order to ensure the safety of those in attendance at an organization-sponsored event is prohibited.
scenario b questions8
Scenario B Questions
    • 17. Other misconduct.
    • 17.1  Social Host. It is the responsibility of any student organization who hosts a visitor or guest on campus, at a University sponsored event/activity, or student organization sponsored event/activity to insure that the person knows and adheres to the Student Conduct Code. In instances where guests violate rules or codes, the student organization host will be held responsible. Student organizations are responsible for all that occurs within facilities they have reserved for use on campus, own or rent off-campus. Whether a visitor is a student, non-student, or non-identified guest the student organization host will be held responsible for violations of the Student Conduct Code. Responsibility under these rules may occur even if the host organizations’ officers are not a participant in the activity or have left the visitor(s) alone.
  • Does your organization have legal liability concerns for this event?
    • Probably
  • What risk management issues should the student organization officers be concerned about?
scenario c
Scenario C

Your organization wants to do a fundraiser for your national philanthropy. Your philanthropy committee decides to sell raffle tickets for $1 each or 6 for $5 during the next month. The raffle winner will receive a $250 gift certificate to the Truman Bookstore. As the organization’s officers, do you have cause to be concerned about this activity?

scenario c questions
Scenario C Questions
  • Does this violate any of the Proscribed Student Organization Conduct Rules?
    • 9. Gambling. Student organizations are prohibited from the following:
    • 9.1 Play or sponsor an unlawful game of chance for money or for anything of value (e.g., raffle) on (a) University premises or at (b) any affair sponsored by a student organization.
    • 9.2 Unlawfully sell, barter, or dispose of a ticket, order, or any interest in a scheme of chance by whatever name on (a) University premises or at (b) any affair sponsored by a student organization.
  • Does your organization have legal liability concerns for this event?
    • Yes, violated Gambling Laws
  • What risk management issues should the student organization officer’s be concerned about?
scenario d
Scenario D

Your organization decides to do a fundraiser to assist with its local projects and charities. The fundraising committee decides to do a casino night with a variety of games available from Collins Rentals. Your organization members will staff each of the game tables. You will charge $5 for individuals or $8 for couples to attend the event. Each guests will be provided with 10 tickets to purchase $250 in casino chips. It is a nice affair in the Activities Room and you have also provided for punch and a variety of finger foods from Sodexho.

Guests can use the 10 tickets they received initially or the tickets they have remaining or have acquired after about 2.5 hours of playing the casino games for a chance to win one of about 20 prizes donated by local merchants, ranging from CDs to a new palm computer. They place their tickets in a box in front of each of the prizes and a drawing is held at 11:30 p.m.

scenario d questions
Scenario D Questions
  • Does this violate any of the Proscribed Student Organization Conduct Rules?
    • No, you are selling tickets to an event and holding a random drawing with donated prizes.
  • Does your organization have legal liability concerns for this event?
    • Not with regard to gambling laws.
  • What risk management issues should the student organization officer’s be concerned about?
    • Social host issues, crowd control, facilities, guest behavior
scenario e
Scenario E

You are the President of a small organization that has limited funds in your Organization’s checking account, approximately $300. The officers of your organization decide to hold a formal dinner and dance at XYZ Banquet Facility. The cost of renting the room for the dance is $250 for the evening and you must guarantee dinner for a minimum of 50 people in advance at $20 per person ($1,000). XYZ Banquet Facility requires a $250 security deposit that will be credited to your bill for the dance room rental, unless any other expenses are incurred such as facility damage. The formal chair finds two local bands that will play each play for $150 ($300) total, payable at the time they arrive to perform. The formal committee plans to charge each of your 30 members $30 per person and they are required to attend the formal. They are counting on each member to bring a date and pay an additional $25 at the door ($1,650 total revenue). The formal committee believes the organization should clear a profit of $150 for the treasury with this event.

scenario e14
Scenario E

The formal chair signs a binding contract with XYZ Banquet Facility for a minimum of $1,000 and has an organizational check for the $250 security deposit (checking account balance now $50). Only 15 of your members bring dates for the evening (loss of $375 in revenue). Two of your members get into an argument at dinner and one of them shoves the other through the room divider, damaging the divider and a buffet table set-up for another group in the other room. XYZ Banquet Facility is pretty cool about it, but keeps the security deposit and hands you a bill for $1,250 ($1,000 food minimum and $250 room rental) at the end of the evening. Your Treasurer can’t write the check to pay the bill because he only collected $375 in cash from the guests at the door and has $650 in the checking account after paying each of the two bands $150 each. As President, things look a little bleak that night, and you are $225 short!

scenario e15
Scenario E

The owners give the organization a week to come up with the balance due. A week has passed and XYZ’s owners contact the University for assistance in getting reimbursed for the $225 your organization has not paid and also are seeking another $250 from your organization now that they have the actual costs for the repair of the room divider, replacement of the damaged table and dishes, and estimated loss of prepared food from the buffet table. If they don’t get it within a week, they indicate they will sue your organization and the University for reimbursement, damages, suffering, and court costs.

scenario e questions
Scenario E Questions
  • Does this violate any of the Proscribed Student Organization Conduct Rules?
    • 5. Damage to Property. Malicious or unwarranted (a) damage or (b) destruction of another’s property is prohibited.
    • 12. Outstanding Debt.
    • 12.1  All student organizations are responsible for ensuring that all bills are paid to both on and off campus vendors in a timely manner.
    • 12.2 Student organizations shall not knowingly enter into purchase or rental agreements that are beyond the resources of the organization’s ability to pay.
  • Does your organization have legal liability concerns for this event?
    • Yes, property damage and destruction and unpaid bill. Can be sued in civil court.
  • What risk management issues should the student organization officer’s be concerned about?
scenario f
Scenario F

Your organization orders $200 worth of recognition plaques from A-B Company in Kirksville for the ten awards you provide to your members at an annual organizational recognition banquet in the Spring. Some members haven’t paid their dues and you don’t have the funds in your account to pay for the plaques. Your Awards Chair and Treasurer have been dodging phone calls from the owner of A-B company, who has been trying to contact them to come pick-up the plaques and pay for them. It is now past the date inscribed on the plaques, so A-B’s owner contacts the Center for Student Involvement about your outstanding bill. The CSI has now contacted you as president of the organization?

scenario f questions
Scenario F Questions
  • Does this violate any of the Proscribed Student Organization Conduct Rules?
    • 12. Outstanding Debt.
    • 12.1  All student organizations are responsible for ensuring that all bills are paid to both on and off campus vendors in a timely manner.
    • 12.2 Student organizations shall not knowingly enter into purchase or rental agreements that are beyond the resources of the organization’s ability to pay.
  • Does your organization have legal liability concerns for this event?
    • Yes, can be sued in civil court for damages.
  • What risk management issues should the student organization officer’s be concerned about?
scenario g
Scenario G

Your organization has a tradition of having its female pledges sing songs as a group to a number of men that the active members find attractive in the residence halls. While the organization gets permission from Residential Living to do this between 7-9 p.m. on a weekday evening in several of the halls and the hall directors are made aware of your organization’s plans, a Truman hall director notices that only certain young women in your organization appear to be singing to the residents. She knows that some of the members are pledges, because they are residents of her hall. She is also concerned about the fact that they only sing to the attractive men in the hall. The Hall Director informs her Area Coordinator and a referral is made to the Office of Citizenship and Community Standards.

scenario g questions
Scenario G Questions
  • Does this violate any of the Proscribed Student Organization Conduct Rules?
    • 6. Hazing. The University does not condone hazing in any form and defines hazing to include but not be limited to any act on or off the campus of the University, determined by a reasonable person, that endangers the mental or physical health or comfort or safety of a student or prospective member, or results in the destruction or removal of public or private property, or which causes embarrassment, or humiliation, for the purpose of initiation or admission into, affiliation with, or confirming any form of affiliation, or continued membership in a student organization regardless of an individual’s willingness to participate in the activity. Acts of hazing shall include, but not be limited to:
    • 6.2 Any activity that endangers the mental health of the student or prospective member, including but not limited to sleep deprivation, physical confinement, or other extreme stress inducing activity;
scenario g questions21
Scenario G Questions
  • Does your organization have legal liability concerns for this event?
    • Potentially for criminal behavior of individual members and civil damages.
  • What risk management issues should the student organization officers be concerned about?
scenario h
Scenario H

A female first-year resident is crushed when she doesn’t get selected for IMQT organization. She goes to talk with her SA and informs her that during recruitment she was humiliated by members of the organization. She is somewhat overweight, although she lost 50 pounds during the last two years of high school by making significant and healthy lifestyle changes and is within 15% of her ideal body weight. During one evening of recruitment week, recruits were asked to unclothe until they were dressed only in their bras and panties. Organization members circled areas on each recruit’s body that the group felt needed improvement with bright markers!

scenario h23
Scenario H

This student is now crushed that she allowed her self to be humiliated like that in front of these other women (they circled her breasts, hips, thighs, and stomach). The SA contacts the Hall Director who provides support and encourages the student to seek counseling at University Counseling Services and to file a complaint against the organization under the Student Conduct Code. As President of the organization, you have just received a charges letter from the Office of Citizenship and Community Standards?

scenario h questions
Scenario H Questions
  • Has your organization violated any of the Proscribed Student Organization Conduct Rules in its interaction with this student or any of its new recruits?
    • 2. Disorderly Conduct. No student organization shall:
    • 2.1 Act in a manner that can reasonably be expected to disturb the academic pursuits or infringe upon the privacy, rights, privileges, health or safety of (a) students, (b) the University community, or (c) local community.
scenario h questions25
Scenario H Questions
    • 6. Hazing. The University does not condone hazing in any form and defines hazing to include but not be limited to any act on or off the campus of the University, determined by a reasonable person, that endangers the mental or physical health or comfort or safety of a student or prospective member, or results in the destruction or removal of public or private property, or which causes embarrassment, or humiliation, for the purpose of initiation or admission into, affiliation with, or confirming any form of affiliation, or continued membership in a student organization regardless of an individual’s willingness to participate in the activity. Acts of hazing shall include, but not be limited to:
    • 6.1 Any activity which endangers the physical health or safety of the student or prospective member, including, but not limited to, physical brutality, whipping, beating, branding, exposure to the elements, forced consumption of any food, liquor, drug, or other substance, or forced smoking or chewing of tobacco products; or
  • Does your organization have legal liability concerns for this event?
    • Criminal prosecution of individual members and possible civil lawsuit for damages against organization.
  • What risk management issues should the student organization’s officers be concerned about?
scenario i
Scenario I

Your organization is known as the “SOCIAL” organization! It has lots of party’s at the house during the semester. During recruitment, four of your members take two of the organization’s new recruits to the house they rent off-campus. The members decide to have some fun with the new recruits and offer them some beer, even though they know the recruits are only 18. After they have a few beers, the new recruits get a little relaxed. The four organization members indicate that they will only vote for them to become full members at the end of the semester if they can prove they can hold their liquor. They have to down four double-shots of Jack Daniels and chase it with a 32 oz. mug of beer within 15 minutes.

scenario i27
Scenario I
  • The first recruit handles the shots just fine, but halfway through the beer, the recruit starts to vomit. The second recruit downs the shots and the beer just fine during the 15 minutes. The four members leave and return to the organization’s house. A half-hour later, the second recruit has passed out and appears to not be breathing. The recruit’s skin color is turning blue. The first recruit has recovered from the violent vomiting episode and notices the other recruit is lying on the floor and calls 911. The police and ambulance personnel arrive, both recruits are transported to the hospital. Recruit number two never wakes up, despite the extensive efforts of the ER personnel? A day has passed since the event, but the Dean of Student Affairs has requested your presence as President of the organization in her office that afternoon?
scenario i questions
Scenario I Questions
  • Has your organization violated any of the Proscribed Student Organization Conduct Rules in its interaction with this student or any of its new recruits?
    • 2. Disorderly Conduct. No student organization shall:
    • 2.1 Act in a manner that can reasonably be expected to disturb the academic pursuits or infringe upon the privacy, rights, privileges, health or safety of (a) students, (b) the University community, or (c) local community.
    • 6. Hazing. The University does not condone hazing in any form and defines hazing to include but not be limited to any act on or off the campus of the University, determined by a reasonable person, that endangers the mental or physical health or comfort or safety of a student or prospective member, or results in the destruction or removal of public or private property, or which causes embarrassment, or humiliation, for the purpose of initiation or admission into, affiliation with, or confirming any form of affiliation, or continued membership in a student organization regardless of an individual’s willingness to participate in the activity. Acts of hazing shall include, but not be limited to:
scenario i questions29
Scenario I Questions
  • 6.1 Any activity which endangers the physical health or safety of the student or prospective member, including, but not limited to, physical brutality, whipping, beating, branding, exposure to the elements, forced consumption of any food, liquor, drug, or other substance, or forced smoking or chewing of tobacco products; or
  • 6.2 Any activity that endangers the mental health of the student or prospective member, including but not limited to sleep deprivation, physical confinement, or other extreme stress inducing activity;
  • 6.3 Any activity that requires the student or prospective member to perform a duty or task that involves a violation of the criminal laws of this state or any University policies, rules, or regulations published in University documents.
  • 8. Alcohol and Drug Related Misconduct. Missouri law prohibits possession or consumption of alcoholic beverages by those under the legal drinking age and prohibits making alcoholic beverages available to persons under the legal drinking age.
  • 8.1 No organization shall furnish or cause to be or allow to be furnished any alcoholic beverage to any person under the legal drinking age.
scenario i questions30
Scenario I Questions
    • 8.3  No organization shall furnish or cause to be or allow to be furnished any alcoholic beverage to any person in a state of noticeable intoxication.
  • Does your organization have legal liability concerns for this event?
    • Criminal prosecution of individual members and possible civil lawsuit for damages against organization. If found guilty, compensatory and punitive damage award would probably bankrupt chapter.
  • What risk management issues should the student organization’s officers be concerned about?
scenario j
Scenario J

Your organization hosts “Blow Out Party II” of the semester at its off-campus house. Several guests drive to the party and park in the lot on your property. There is a mix of Truman students from the “right” organizations and their guests, some of whom are not Truman students. You have an excellent risk management protocol (only individuals on your guest list and their one guest are allowed into the party, underage students are identified and not allow to bring alcohol into the party, and you have strict control of each guests BYOB alcohol through your tagging system.

scenario j32
Scenario J

Later in the evening, you ask some of your guests to leave because they have had too much to drink and are causing a disturbance. The one’s causing the trouble are not Truman students, but your Truman student guest agrees to get them out of there. The Truman student gets in his car, but his guest refuses to refuses to get in the car. Some other non-Truman women guests decide to get involved in the situation and jump onto the hood of the car while the Truman student is backing out. The driver of the car stops, but two of the women fall off and land face first. The problem guest quickly gets in the car and the Truman student thinks this is his opportunity to get his guest off your property, so he leaves.

scenario j33
Scenario J

After he leaves, it is discovered the two women guests landed pretty hard. It is clear they have lost some teeth and have some nasty cuts on their faces. Your officers are contacted and the organization does the right thing by calling 911. The women are transported to the hospital. It is later determined that along with each losing four of their front teeth, one broke her nose, and the other her jaw along with the nasty cuts and abrasions that required 100 stitches between the two of them. They sober up the next day and are not real thrilled to learn about their medical bills for the night before, the medical treatment they are facing, and that they will probably have some facial scars for the rest of their life. The Dean of Student Affairs Office is made aware of this event by the Kirksville Police Department.

scenario j questions
Scenario J Questions
  • Has your organization violated any of the Proscribed Student Organization Conduct Rules?
    • 2. Disorderly Conduct. No student organization shall:
    • 2.1 Act in a manner that can reasonably be expected to disturb the academic pursuits or infringe upon the privacy, rights, privileges, health or safety of (a) students, (b) the University community, or (c) local community.
    • 8. Alcohol and Drug Related Misconduct. Missouri law prohibits possession or consumption of alcoholic beverages by those under the legal drinking age and prohibits making alcoholic beverages available to persons under the legal drinking age.
    • 8.3 No organization shall furnish or cause to be or allow to be furnished any alcoholic beverage to any person in a state of noticeable intoxication.
scenario j questions35
Scenario J Questions
  • 17. Other misconduct.
  • 17.1 Social Host. It is the responsibility of any student organization who hosts a visitor or guest on campus, at a University sponsored event/activity, or student organization sponsored event/activity to insure that the person knows and adheres to the Student Conduct Code. In instances where guests violate rules or codes, the student organization host will be held responsible. Student organizations are responsible for all that occurs within facilities they have reserved for use on campus, own or rent off-campus. Whether a visitor is a student, non-student, or non-identified guest the student organization host will be held responsible for violations of the Student Conduct Code. Responsibility under these rules may occur even if the host organizations’ officers are not a participant in the activity or have left the visitor(s) alone.
scenario j questions36
Scenario J Questions
  • Does your organization have legal liability concerns for this event?
    • Criminal prosecution of those involved and possible civil lawsuit for damages against organization.
  • What risk management issues should the student organization’s officers be concerned about?
scenario k
Scenario K

You organization plans a weekend retreat at the Lake of the Ozarks. You are able to rent a fine facility with several cabins and multipurpose lodge for your meetings. You have 50 members, but decide to carpool to save on gas and many of the members don’t have cars. You plan to leave Friday around 4 p.m. and have about 8 members who can drive. One of your driver’s is a chronic procrastinator. You are aware when she arrives that she pulled an all-nighter Thursday to finish a paper for English that was due that morning. One of your other members drives a car that is about 25 years old. It will do 70 if he pushes it, but it leaves a thick trail of black smoke in its wake. His tires also look they have seen better days.

scenario k38
Scenario K

Your group departs and stops for a pre-arranged dinner at Chevy’s in Columbia at about 6 p.m. The members have fun and are back on the road again at 8 p.m. Although the driver’s agreed not to drink, a couple of the guys had a few beers. The convoy is entering the construction zone and the highway narrows to two lanes as you approach Osage Beach. There is also some fog. Ms. All-Nighter falls asleep at the will momentarily and swerves into the oncoming lane and hits another vehicle. Her car spins around and hits the clunker car. His car is now really spewing smoke as the remaining three cars in the convoy approach behind them. You can imagine what might happen next! As President, you were in the last car and were able to stop in time. It is now Monday morning and you are meeting with the Dean of Student Affairs.

scenario k questions
Scenario K Questions
  • Has your organization violated any of the Proscribed Student Organization Conduct Rules?
    • 2. Disorderly Conduct. No student organization shall:
    • 2.1 Act in a manner that can reasonably be expected to disturb the academic pursuits or infringe upon the privacy, rights, privileges, health or safety of (a) students, (b) the University community, or (c) local community.
    • 8. Alcohol and Drug Related Misconduct. Missouri law prohibits possession or consumption of alcoholic beverages by those under the legal drinking age and prohibits making alcoholic beverages available to persons under the legal drinking age.
scenario k questions40
Scenario K Questions
  • 8.4 The unlawful (a) manufacture (b) possession, (c) use, (d) sale, (e) distribution of narcotic or other controlled substances, (f) drug paraphernalia, and/or (g) other chemicals is prohibited. Each organization shall take all necessary steps to see that this regulation is not violated at functions it sponsors as well as on any property it owns, operates, and/or rents.
  • 17. Other misconduct.
  • 17.1 Social Host. It is the responsibility of any student organization who hosts a visitor or guest on campus, at a University sponsored event/activity, or student organization sponsored event/activity to insure that the person knows and adheres to the Student Conduct Code. In instances where guests violate rules or codes, the student organization host will be held responsible. Student organizations are responsible for all that occurs within facilities they have reserved for use on campus, own or rent off-campus. Whether a visitor is a student, non-student, or non-identified guest the student organization host will be held responsible for violations of the Student Conduct Code. Responsibility under these rules may occur even if the host organizations’ officers are not a participant in the activity or have left the visitor(s) alone.
scenario k questions41
Scenario K Questions
  • Does your organization have legal liability concerns for this incident?
    • Criminal prosecution of those involved and possible civil lawsuit for damages against organization.
  • What risk management issues should the student organization’s officers be concerned about?
case law
Case Law
  • Healy v. James (1972)
  • Shamloo v. Mississippi State Board of Trustees (1980)
  • Iota Xi Chapter of Sigma Chi Fraternity v. George Mason University (1993)
  • R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul (1992)
  • Gruen v. Chase (1995)
  • Students Against Apartheid Coalition v. O’Neal (1988)
  • Widmar v. Vincent (1981)
  • Rosenberger v. Rector and Visitors of University of Virginia, (1995)
  • Bayless v. Maritime, (1970)
  • Bazaar v. Fortune, (1973)
  • Ingraham v. Wright. No. 75-6527. Supreme Court of U.S., U.S. 430 U.S. 651; 97 S. Ct. 1401: 1977 U.S. Lexis 7451 L. Ed. 2d 711. Argued November 2-3, 1976. April 19, 1977 decided.