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Injuries to Church Volunteers

A court recently ruled that a volunteer could sue his church.

A New York court ruled that a volunteer who was injured while trimming a tree on church property could sue the church.

In response to requests by the pastor (both from the pulpit and in the church bulletin) for volunteers to trim trees on the church property, some 75 men gathered on a Saturday morning. At one point, one of the men was on a ladder cutting off a 30-foot limb with a chain saw. When the limb was cut through, it whipped around and struck the ladder, knocking the man to the ground and injuring him seriously.

He sued several of the other volunteers, and the church, claiming that they had been negligent in failing to stabilize the limb adequately, in failing to warn him of the need for safety equipment, and in failing to provide him with adequate safety equipment. A trial court dismissed the lawsuit, and the victim appealed.

A state appellate court agreed that the fellow volunteers ...

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  • May 1, 1991

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