Elders and liability issues

by wannabefree 12 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • wannabefree

    Elder, have you contacted the Society's Legal Department and asked if they would recommend you carry a personal liability insurance policy?

    It would be interesting to hear their response. Would they say yes, no, or that is for you to decide.

    The Society has been sued and has paid out big settlements. Because of this, they seem to have taken measures to insulate the organization.

    Do they consider the elders as independent agents?

    If so, they are the ones whose names are signed to documents concerning the handling of the personal affairs of the members of the congregation.

    Often in the U.S. if somebody is found not guilty in criminal court, they can be sued in civil court where the burden of proof is much easier to establish. (ie O.J. Simpson)

    If a member of the congregation committed suicide, died because of not accepting a form of blood therapy, or experienced any kind of tragedy they can point to being a result of recommendations, counsel, judicial actions of elders, hospital liason committee members, or other independent agents of the Organization, what would happen if a person sued in civil court for something like wrongful death? Would the Organization's legal department defend the elder(s) named in such a suit?

    Just curious ... elders, the Society has taken steps to minimize their own liability ... have you thought about your own?

  • ssn587

    the only way the society would get involved if an elder were being sued, is if they themselves were mentioned in the suit and were also being sued, my guess is they couldn't distance themselves fast or far enough. The elders and as a by product, the elderettes would be left hanging in the wind so to speak.

  • wannabefree

    This thread is a result of thoughts that stirred in my mind after reading this thread ...


    I just can't help but wonder what the direction would be by the Legal Department that represents the legal entity "The Christian Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses", because whatever answer they gave would be to protect their own liability for giving that answer.

    Fictitious Example:

    Brother so-and-so was in despair because of the way he was treated, disfellowshipped, fell in to deep depression, and committed suicide.

    Family sues congregation elders for wrongful death.

    Elders in defense claim they only followed the recommendations of elders from congregation depressed soul recently transferred from.

    Elders, who signed the documentation sent to new hall, state they were following recommendations of Organization. Had been in contact with legal department before making decision.

    Elders, do you have signed documentation from the legal department? If it was a phone call, do you have the name of the party that you spoke to in the legal department?


  • wannabefree

    I found this website that offers such insurance. Do you think an elder could be classified as a Pastoral Counselor?


    Professional Liability Insurance

    Counseling Professionals

    Pastoral Counselors

  • sir82
    the only way the society would get involved if an elder were being sued, is if they themselves were mentioned in the suit and were also being sued

    Who would you rather sue:

    A) A 55 year old self-employed window washer with an estate valued at $10,000 and annual income of $20,000


    B) A multi-national multi-billion dollar publishing and real estate conglomerate

    Virtually every lawsuit against any elders' action would include the WTS, I would have to think.

    And I suspect the WTS legal team would be very involved in coaching the elder(s) in exactly what to say and not to say in court.

  • wannabefree

    I am not looking to sue anybody, and sure, more often than not the intention might be to go after the money, but suppose an elder is a successful physician or business owner.

    My point is simply "what if?".

    Should an elder think about this?

    If it is true that the Organization now classifies elders as "independent agents", there is a legal reason for making this distinction.

    Sometimes lawsuits are engaged in just to set a precedent, to have closure and accountability.

    A ministerial servant who is asked the question "is there anything that prevents you from serving as an elder" probably gives absolutely no thought to potential liability that may come with that position, an elder sitting in on a judicial committee probably gives no thought to personal liability about a potential negative outcome of the decision he is a party to, should they consider that?

    How would the Society's Legal Department answer the question. They have clearly made changes for legal reasons. If the Legal Department told the inquiring elder that they couldn't either recommend or disourage it put it was a decision that would be up to the elder, wouldn't that tell you that it was a possibility?

    I challenge an elder to make the call and post the response.

  • JeffT

    I'm not doing anything that might warrant a lawsuit, but on the advice of a financial planner and my insurance agent I have a one million dollar umbrella policy. It costs $8 a month.

  • straightshooter

    When I used to be an elder, the WTS distanced themselves from child molestation cases if an elder made a "mistake". The elder could be on his own in such a case.

  • OnTheWayOut

    If I knew as an elder what I know now about WTS throwing the elders under the bus on this issue, there is no way I would ever have been one.

    They almost certainly would be advised not to ever tell individual elders or bodies of elders "NO" to getting personal liability insurance.

    Also, without knowing much about the legal ins and outs of this, I do know that WTS would be named in virtually all lawsuits because lawyers would know where elders get their marching orders and want to go after the deeper pockets of WTS in all cases.

  • carla

    Maybe if jw's & ex jw's did start suing individual elders there would not be any elders left to serve the publishing co. Who would want to become one? What woman would want a man with such privileges that could also at some point take away her home & life savings (as if they had any with the Big A coming any day now)

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