Recent Developments

Issues that affect ministers and churches
Personal Injuries on Church Property or During Church Activities - Part 1
A Louisiana court ruled that a church was partially responsible for a $27 million verdict based on the death of one child and serious injuries to two other children.
Key point 10-02. The doctrine of respondeat superior imposes vicarious liability on employers for the negligent acts of their employees committed within the scope of their employment. Negligence as a Basis for Liability

A Louisiana court ruled that a church was partially responsible for a $27 million verdict based on the death of one child and serious injuries to two other children who were passengers in a church van that was struck by a train. A church volunteer was driving several children to their homes in a church van following worship services. He eventually was left with three sisters who were 12, 11, and 7 years of age. A train struck the van as the driver entered a railroad crossing. The collision instantly killed the 12-year-old sister, rendered the 11-year-old sister a quadriplegic, and caused serious injuries to the 7-year-old sister. The girls' parents sued the driver, church, and the railroad company responsible for maintaining the crossing. They alleged that the railroad had failed to clear away brush and weeds, which obstructed the driver's vision, and had not installed adequate warning signs. A jury entered a verdict for $27 million and determined that the railroad was 69% at fault and the church was 31% at fault. As a result, the church was responsible for 31% of the verdict amount. Most of the damages were based on the injuries to the sister who had become a quadriplegic.

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Posted: September 1, 2000
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