Court Decisions Rejecting Vicarious Liability
Key point 10-18.02. Most courts have refused to hold denominational agencies liable for the acts of affiliated ministers and churches, either because of First Amendment considerations or because the relationship between the denominational agency and affiliated church or minister is too remote to support liability.
Most courts have rejected the secondary liability of denominational agencies for the acts and obligations of affiliated churches, ministers, and lay workers. This form of liability is sometimes referred to as vicarious or "ascending liability." The courts generally have declined to impose vicarious liability on denominational agencies on the basis of one or more of the defenses summarized in the next section.