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Woman Injured on Church Property Sues

The church allowed a choral guild to use its facilities rent-free.

Key point. Churches are not necessarily liable for injuries suffered by persons who enter onto church premises as part of an outside group's activities.

An Alabama court ruled that a church was not responsible for injuries suffered by a woman who was on church premises as part of a choral guild that used the church's premises on a rent—free basis. The woman was injured when the metal risers on which she was standing collapsed. The choral guild's director had obtained permission from the church to use its facilities for rehearsals. The woman sued the church, claiming that she was an "invitee" who was owed the highest duty of care, and that the church breached this duty by allowing the choral guild to use defective risers. A court disagreed. It defined an invitee as "one who enters the land of another, with the landowner's consent, to bestow some material or commercial benefit ...

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Richard R. Hammar is an attorney, CPA and author specializing in legal and tax issues for churches and clergy.

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Posted:
  • March 3, 1997