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No Case for Clergy Malpractice

Churches also not generally held responsible on basis of respondeat superior.

New York
Key point: Most courts have ruled that clergy and churches cannot be sued for "clergy malpractice."
Key point: Churches can be legally responsible on the basis of the respondeat superior doctrine for the actions of their employees only if those actions are committed within the course of employment and further the mission and functions of the church. Intentional and self-serving acts of church employees often will not satisfy this standard.

A New York court ruled that a church and diocese could not be sued on the basis of "malpractice" or "respondeat superior" for the alleged sexual misconduct of a priest.

The priest allegedly molested a minor pupil at a church-operated secondary school. A trial court dismissed the case, and the child and his parents appealed. A state appellate court affirmed the trial court's decision in favor of the church and diocese. In ...

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  • September 1, 1995