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Denominational Control Does Not Equal Legal Liability

An Ohio court makes an important ruling.

Key point. The fact that a denominational agency may exercise ecclesiastical control over a minister does not necessarily make the agency legally responsible for the minister's actions.

An Ohio court ruled that a denominational agency was not responsible for a local church elder's actions even though it exercised ecclesiastical control over him. The elder, while driving his car, struck another vehicle. The impact killed the driver of the other vehicle and injured a passenger. The elder served as an elected but uncompensated official of a subdivision ("district") of a state denominational agency, and at the time of the accident was involved in distributing fliers for a district event. A lawsuit was brought by the injured passenger and the family of the deceased driver (the "victims") against national and state denominational agencies on the ground that they were legally responsible ...

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  • March 1, 1996