Church Law & Tax Report

September/October 2003
Articles with a Member Access Only are available only to members.

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Articles

Child Abuse Reporting Laws Amended in Arkansas, Maine, and Vermont Member access only

Clergy and some other church officials are affected.

Denominations—Legal Liability Member access only

A federal court in Louisiana ruled that a church in Florida was not responsible for the liabilities of a church in Louisiana.

The 2003 Tax Law Member access only

Application to churches and church staff.

Recent Developments

Issues that affect ministers and churches, with Richard R. Hammar

Privacy Member access only

An Indiana court ruled that a private investigator who made secret surveillance videos during a worship service to "prove" that the pastor's wife was not disabled did not commit an invasion of privacy or emotional distress.

Church Business Meetings Member access only

A Michigan court ruled that it was barred from resolving a dismissed pastor's claim that his dismissal was legally void because of noncompliance with procedural requirements.

Clergy—Taxes Member access only

The Tax Court ruled that a minister could not deduct the cost of courses he took at a local university to complete his undergraduate degree.

Clergy Removal - Part 1 Member access only

An Indiana court ruled that a lawsuit brought by a dismissed pastor against his former church was barred by the first amendment guaranty of religious freedom.

Clergy Removal - Part 2 Member access only

A federal court in Puerto Rico ruled that it was barred by the first amendment guaranty of religious freedom from resolving a dismissed pastor's lawsuit against his former church.

Copyright - Part 1 Member access only

A federal court in Florida ruled that a computer software program written by an employee was a "work made for hire" that was owned by the employer and not the employee.

Copyright - Part 2 Member access only

A federal appeals court ruled that a religious chorus did not infringe upon the copyright of an allegedly similar song composed by another songwriter a few years earlier.

Copyright - Part 3 Member access only

A federal court in Texas ruled that a company committed copyright infringement by making and selling a videotape of a concert in which copyrighted music was performed.

Defamation - Part 1 Member access only

The Iowa Supreme Court ruled that church officials could be sued for defamation as a result of a letter that was sent to both members and non-members.

Defamation - Part 2 Member access only

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that a pastor could sue his denomination for publishing a statement informing other pastors and the media that he had been suspended from all pastoral duties because of "formal charges of sexual misconduct."
Ohio
Personal Injuries on Church Property or During Church Activities

Personal Injuries on Church Property and During Church Activities - Part 1 Member access only

An Ohio court ruled that an indemnification clause in a "facility use agreement" required a charity that used a nonprofit camp to reimburse the camp for any legal judgments or settlements arising out of injuries occurring at the camp.

Personal Injuries on Church Property and During Church Activities - Part 2 Member access only

A California court ruled that an employer's cell phone records can be used to show whether or not an employee was talking on a cell phone at the time of an accident.

Sexual Misconduct by Clergy and Church Workers - Part 1 Member access only

The Supreme Judicial Court of Maine ruled that a church could not be liable on the basis of negligent supervision for a pastor's sexual assault.

Sexual Misconduct by Clergy and Church Workers - Part 2 Member access only

The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that the first amendment guaranty of religious freedom did not prevent it from resolving a man's claim that his church and a denominational agency were responsible for the negligent counseling of his pastor that led to the breakdown of his marriage.

Zoning Member access only

A federal district court in California ruled that a city could not seize a church's property through eminent domain.

Church Liability Member access only

A New Jersey court ordered a plaintiff to pay the attorney fees of a church employee because a lawsuit naming the employee as a defendant was frivolous.

ChurchSalary

ChurchSalary

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Your Guide to Employee Handbooks

Your Guide to Employee Handbooks Member access only

If updated regularly, an employee handbook can offer valuable legal protection against civil court claims made by disgruntled staff members.
Best Practices for Receiving Charitable Contributions

Best Practices for Receiving Charitable Contributions  Member access only

Practical help and clear understanding on issues surrounding charitable contributions.