Could "Agency" End Door to Door Work?

by metatron 8 Replies latest jw friends

  • metatron

    Sorry if this was posted already but I didn't see it , so here goes.



    A Catholic lady has a car accident while delivering a statue/idol as a volunteer for the church. An old guy gets paralysed

    and a jury awards $17 million. I understand the judge upheld the award.

    Now, it begins to make sense - why the Watchtower settled out out of court for $1.55 million in an auto accident involving

    a Bethelite. If this idea of agency can be extended to volunteers - as it clearly has been with a Catholic volunteer, just imagine

    what lawsuits could emerge from door to door "preaching"! They could be rapidly sued out of existence, given the

    numbers of car driving volunteers they command, relative to Catholics!

    If the Society changed everything overnight in regard to donations - because of the Jimmy Swaggart case, I wonder if

    they are agonizing over this subject. If I were them, I sure would be! Imagine the door to door work being ended by the Watchtower

    Society itself! Couple this event with the Society's obvious cash flow problems with printing literature ----- and would it

    be impossible to think that they could order a pullback to informal witnessing, with little or no literature to connect them

    with lawsuits????????????


  • JT

    just a fyi

    March 05, 2003 ::

    Why did Jehovah's Witnesses pay the largest cash settlement in its history?

    The largest settlement ever paid in the history of Jehovah's Witnesses occurred this past October, but no news outlet has yet reported it.

    The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, which is the umbrella organization over 6 million Witnesses worldwide, paid the estate of Frances Coughlin $1.55 million dollars rather than let a jury decide the wrongful death lawsuit.

    Frances Coughlin's surviving family sued Jehovah's Witnesses, also known as the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, in State of Connecticut Superior Court at Milford (CV-00-0072183 S).

    The principle defendant was a "Bethelite," or full-time ministry worker, who drove recklessly in bad weather and killed Ms. Coughlin, a mother and grandmother, on October 8, 1998.

    That Bethelite Jordon Johnson was traveling between "Bethel," which has housing for its full-time workers in Patison, New Jersey and Brooklyn, New York, to a Witness Kingdom Hall he was assigned to in Derby, Connecticut.

    Johnson was found guilty of vehicular manslaughter, but only served 30 days in jail and was sentenced to two years probation. Subsequently, he and Jehovah's Witnesses faced a civil suit filed by Ms. Coughlin's surviving family for damages.

    Why was the Witness organization willing to pay more than $1.5 million dollars?

    Apparently because a much larger issue of "agency" was at stake.

    Agency is the word used to express a relationship between a principal party and its agent, through which the principal party projects its power and/or advances some purpose. And a principal party may be held liable for the actions of its agent.

    Jehovah's Witnesses contended that Jordan Johnson acted on his own and was not their agent at the time he caused the fatal car wreck.

    But plaintiff's counsel, Joel Faxon of Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder, claimed on his client's behalf that Jordan Johnson was serving as a Bethelite and agent of the organization at the time and advancing their purpose, therefore Jehovah's Witnesses was responsible for his actions.

    Internal documents were obtained through the discovery process and testimony was given through depositions, which clarified and substantiated Faxon's view.

    I was retained as an expert witness and consultant for this case by the plaintiff's counsel.

    My role was to assist in the discovery process, provide research and generally help to form a basis for an understanding of how Jehovah's Witnesses employ, use and control Bethelites and others within their organization. Ultimately, I would have also testified as an expert in court.

    That testimony would have included explaining in clear terms how the organizational dynamics, indoctrination and objectives of Jehovah's Witnesses impact individual members and more specifically full-time workers such as Bethelite Jordan Johnson.

    But on the first day of trial Jehovah's Witnesses decided they didn't want a jury to decide this case and instead $1.55 million was paid to the plaintiff.

    The organization that claims it is waiting for the ever-eminent "end of the world" decided to settle in a pragmatic move to protect its long-term interests and more than $1 billion dollars of accumulated assets.

    Again, why would the Witnesses do this if they actually believed they had no meaningful liability?

    Certainly the cost to complete the case in court would be far less than $1.55 million dollars. Why not let the jury decide?

    But the seemingly shrewd Witnesses realized that there was just too much at stake and didn't want to risk a "guilty" verdict.

    Currently the organization known as Jehovah's Witnesses faces a growing number of lawsuits filed by former members who feel the organization has hurt them.

    The personal injuries were allegedly caused by elders and others acting in accordance with the organization's policies and doctrines, which include such matters as blood transfusions and sexual abuse.

    Seemingly to protect its assets the Watchtower Society of Jehovah's Witnesses and its many Kingdom Hall congregations have in recent years created a myriad of corporate entities to apparently contain liability.

    That is, each corporation is seemingly only responsible for its own specific actions and not the action of others. Again, this appears to be a rather pragmatic legal approach to protect the assets amassed by Jehovah's Witnesses over more than a century.

    But what if Jehovah's Witnesses are nevertheless responsible or liable for the actions of its agents, which would include elders and others throughout its vast network of districts and Kingdom Halls?

    Well, now you can see why the check was likely cut for $1.55 million in the Coughlin case.

    Jehovah's Witnesses were apparently concerned about what legal precedent a jury might set that could ultimately affect other claims pending or potentially possible in the future against the organization.

    Many people seem to think that Jehovah's Witnesses or the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society is focused on the end of the world and a coming kingdom. At least that's the impression many have when its members come knocking at the door.

    But through the Coughlin case a different view of the organization emerges, which looks more like a business protecting its worldly assets and focused on the bottom line.

  • RunningMan

    Most provinces in Canada have laws that protect volunteers and volunteer organizations, otherwise the liability issues could become crippling. So, whether the idea of agency could be extended to the rank and file is questionable. However, the above case indicates that for persons with a stronger connection (bethelites, COs, DOs, missionaries, and perhaps even pioneers) the idea at least has merit. However, it would be limited to activities that cause damage, such as car accidents.

    Either way, this is yet another instance of why the Society should be sweating bullets.

  • AlmostAtheist

    To all Congregations:

    "Jehovah loves a cheerful giver." How true those words are! It is in this spirit that we announce the new simplified ministry arrangement. From this point forward, any ministry activity participated in by Jehovah's people will be ON THEIR OWN. time slips will no longer be provided, nor should any time be reported. Arrangement for organized ministry work, if so desired by individuals, will need to be made on a personal basis. NO MINISTRY ACTIVITIES SHOULD BE ORGANIZED AT THE KINGDOM HALL OR BY ANY APPOINTED MEMBERS OF THE CONGREGATION.

    It should be noted that many householders have been put off by individuals that have chosen to offer literature to them, some even produced by the Watchtower. Therefore, we encourage anyone performing their personal ministry to refrain from using any of the Watchtower's literature when doing so. Any interested persons that arrive at the Kingdom Hall of their own accord may acquire literature at that time.

    We sincerely hope that this simplified arrangement will bring greater praise to our God and Father Jehovah. (And will hopefully keep the lawyers off our asses!)

    Your Brothers,

    Yada, yada

    BTW -- Margaret, be sure to delete that last bit from paragraph 3. It was a joke.

  • RunningMan

    To all congregations:

    "It has come to our attention that field service consists of publishers picking up magazines, paying for them, driving for coffee, then throwing out the magazines. In order to limit liability, we ask that publishers eliminate steps #1, and #3. Step #4 becomes unnecessary, considering the elimination of step #1. Please continue to fill in your service reports with really big numbers."

  • AuldSoul

    Agency has to be established in the Court in order to apply. It will be, soon. Digital recordings of Circuit Overseers directly encouraging Field Service and leading meetings for Field Service are needed to establish agency. Video would be especially helpful. The Circuit Overseer is a legal representative of the Corporation, the local BOEs are not. His leaing a group out in service would be helpful in establishing Agency.

    The way they currently get around it is they claim they are doing it for God and not for the Church. We have precedent to overcome, and the only way to do that is by presenting evidence. Digital recordings of public meetings are a good avenue for such evidence. It would be excellent to have recordings from several congregations of the congregational discussion of the upcoming Blood discussion in January. Be careful not to create a nuisance or disturbance in the recording of it.

    As many copies as we can get from as many congregations as possible will be an incredible boon. Having the discussion recorded from the UK, Canada, Australia, and the US would be excellent.

    If anyone has recordings of the December KM discussion, please PM.

    We have to start arming ourselves with a library of what is printed AND how it is practiced and understood.


  • metatron

    Didn't Rutherford call Witnesses "publicity agents" when the "preaching" work started?

    I gotta look that one up....


  • RunningMan

    AuldSoul: I have a whole freakin District Convention on VHS. About four or five years ago, my family missed the DC due to some health problems. So, my mother arranged for us to get the whole convention on tape. I've never even cracked it open, but if you or anyone else is interested, I would be happy to unload this on you (er, I mean share this blessed spiritual food with you). I can't imagine a DC without encouragement to go in field service.

  • DannyHaszard

    It's not just automobile accident liability in transit what about when a Watchtower representative blunders on to posted property?It's just a matter of time..

    Scary stuff,do you realize that a mass murderer like Ted Bundy no doubt had young JW woman calling at his home?The door to door intrusion has to stop,it's a left over legacy of 'in your face' Rutherford

    Watch new special about stalkers UPDATED

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