Thursday, April 12, 2007

After this flock got fleeced, is the high-profile pastor's employer liable?

No, according to the First Department, in Naegele v. Archdiocese of N.Y., decided on April 10, 2007. Advancing claims sounding in negligent supervision and respondeat superior, plaintiff had argued that since defendant's clergy-employees are modestly paid and in the habit of accepting monies and gifts from parishioners, defendant should reasonably have foreseen that this particular pastor would exercise undue influence over an elderly parishioner and raid her assets. The court found plaintiff's allegations to be conclusory and insufficient to establish the pastor's propensity to commit the specific tortious acts alleged. Therefore, the negligent supervision claim cannot stand. As for respondeat superior, the alleged tortious acts were clearly not in furtherance of defendant's business and, just as clearly, were outside the scope of the pastor's employment.