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A Denominational Office Was Not Liable Because a Pastor Infected His Former Wife with HIV

A Mississippi case demonstrates how ministers are not necessarily agents of their churches or denominational offices.

Key point 10-02. The doctrine of respondent superior imposes vicarious liability on employers for the negligent acts of their employees and agents committed within the scope of their employment.

Key point 3-08.09. Clergy can be liable for disclosing communications shared with them in confidence to others without the permission of the counselee.

The Mississippi Supreme Court ruled that a state conference of a denomination was not liable for injuries suffered by the former wife of an ordained minister who contracted HIV due to her husband’s repeated same-sex affairs.

Background

A minister was married in 1991. Over the ensuing decades, the minister served several churches within the denomination. During his marriage, the minister engaged in extramarital sexual affairs with other men.

At some point during late 2012 and the first half of 2013, the minister contracted human immunodeficiency virus ...

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Posted:
  • May 10, 2022