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Fiduciary Duty and Legal Liability

Breach of fiduciary duty is difficult to prove in court.

Key Point. Under some circumstances ministers may owe a fiduciary duty to members of their congregation, and they may be liable for breaching this duty. Most cases of fiduciary duty involve sexual misconduct, but this basis of liability is not limited to such cases.

Key Point. Intentional infliction of emotional distress is a theory of liability that involves extreme and outrageous conduct. Plaintiffs rarely establish this theory of liability because of the difficulty of proving that a defendant's actions were outrageous.

A New York court ruled that a pastor who allegedly disseminated information about a member's criminal record to both staff and congregants did not breach any fiduciary duty or commit intentional infliction of emotional distress. A woman (the "plaintiff") was an active member of her church. Because of her background in psychiatry, the church's senior pastor sought advice from ...

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  • July 1, 2009

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