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Segregation of Damages

If this principle applies, exposure to monetary damages in sexual misconduct claims may be reduced.

Key point. Juries generally cannot assess monetary damages against two or more organizations for the same wrong. If a jury determines that a personal injury victim has suffered damages of a specified amount, it cannot assess this amount separately against more than one defendant since doing so would result in duplicate verdicts.

A federal appeals court ruled that juries, in assessing monetary damages in sexual misconduct claims, must "segregate" the church's damages based on negligence from the perpetrator's damages based on intentional or criminal acts. A church member sued his church and a staff member who sexually molested him. During the trial, the court instructed the jury to segregate damages caused by the perpetrator's intentional acts from damages caused by the church's negligence. The jury returned a verdict finding the church liable for only a small portion of the amount that was ...

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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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  • March 1, 2009

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