I saw two JW’s I know quite well the other day and I started to think. They are both men in their mid 40’s, both look like they are pushing 55. Both are single, dirt poor and unskilled, although one is going to marry soon. The first man, who works as a landscaper, was a good mechanic but never got the technical training necessary so is in essence unskilled labor. The second individual was smart but never went to college, he and his life is a complete wreck. He works odd jobs in places like video stores and the such, last time I talked to him he was going back to school to study journalism and had a kind of miserable look to him. To me I see both these men as victims of the JW organization. The organization set itself up as an authority on matters of finance, medicine, and many other things. While it was positioning itself as an authority on all matters, it gave bad and sometimes contradictory advice; advice that led people to disrupt and sometimes destroy their lives, like my two acquaintances above. If a person ask a medical professional (RN or Doctor) on the street about some condition they are having usually the medical professional will tell the person to make an appointment. This is not because DR’s and nurses do not want to help people it is because medical professionals are considered authorities and if they give, bad advice can be sued so to protect themselves they are very careful before giving medical advice. The same holds true for financial analyst; if their advice is so bad as to be deemed negligent they can be sued for financial damages. The question is this; considering the WTBS set itself up as an authority can the WTBS be sued for the horrible ‘advice / commandments’ they have given over the decades on matters of education, finances, and health? I don’t know the answer but I would like to see what others think. Terry
Could they be sued for negligence?
Why Not. That's why we have laws might as well use them.There is no law that said you can't and that's my law
It would be very difficult - juries would think that the jws were simply too silly to know any better.
If the jury understood jwism, they'd be cactus - if not, they'd think the whole thing was too much of a farce to be in court.
The WTS is very good at CYA. Any lawyer worth his salt would argue that what the individual's actions were are simply a result of someone else's interpretation of their articles. They will lay the blame at the individual's feet, or at the least...at the elder's feet. And as you mentioned....those elders don't have a pot to piss it, so what's the point?
It would be especially difficult to establish WT liability for the kinds of things you mention. It would be easier in cases involving blood tranfusions , child abuse or suicide and these cases are proliferating. The courts do not want to get involved with "church" teachings or their effects. This is because of the First Amendment guaranteeing freedom of religion. What is being protected is the "ability to choose" a religion , once the choice is made, you are on your own. This is a flaw in the Amendment, in my opinion caused by social changes since the Amendment was written. Below are several posts dealing with the idea of "full disclosure" as a possible remedy to the posited flaw in the Amendment. "In all fairness, people are being hurt by the double standard that is protected under the Constitutional banner " Freedom of Religion". While the intent of this law is to protect the "believer" and to level the playing field for all religions, there is another effect and that is to empower a religion to exercise authority over its membership that violates their civil and human rights. This dilemma has become accute since the advent of psychology and proselytizing techniques have been conformed to what is known about the human mind. Therefore , full disclosure would confront the dilemma in that it would sensitize the potential convert from THE BEGINNING. Additionaly, potential legislation would "encourage" religious organizations to "clean up their acts" while they fiercely lobby against such a bill." "The issue of "full disclosure"has yet to be aired in courts. To date it is incumbent on the convert to dig out all the subtlties and issues before becoming a member. This rule is outdated by the modern use of psychological techniques to lure unsuspecting members into the fold. Some day it will become clear that people are being hurt by religious organizations like the WTBTS and such organizations will be required to make "full disclosure" of lost or pending law suits so that a potential convert can make an informed choice apart from coersive techniques. Just think what you might have done if the WTBTS was required, bylaw, to inform you that.... "By becoming one of Jehovah's Witnesses you will be required to give up the following Civil and Human Rights: etc. Please see the following pending cases involving the loss of the aformentioned rights; etc "
The traditional analsis follows:
DUTY: does the Defendant and Plaintiff stand in a position such that a duty is owed to the P with respect to the subject matter
BREACH: did the Defendant breach their duty to P
Proximate (legal) CAUSE: Is breach of the duty the legal cause of P's harm?
Actual Cause: Is the breach the factual or actual cause of P's harm?
DAMAGES: Are there any actual damages (If not no harm)
the problem with an action on a negligent basis on the subject matters that you are discussing, specifically the "advice" that led to financial harm in not applying for pensions, pursuing higher education etc., is that it will fail from the outset for lack of a DUTY that is owed between the WTS and the plaintiff.
Keep in mind we are speaking of a legal duty not a moral one.
The WTS does not hold itself out as a financial advisor. Therefore it has no duty to conduct itself with an appropriate STANDARD of DUE CARE with respect to "financial advice" given to the plaintiff (any JWs). You see how this is different than the professional financial advisors that can be pursued in your example.
The "relationship" that exists between the WTS and JWs (or non JWs that follow its advice) is a "spritual" one. (But this itself does not make it completely bullet-proof against lawsuits.)
Thus when it comes to the matters you are referring a reasonable person would say that such a Plaintiff should not have given any more credence with respect to such financial "advice" than they would to any other person on the street...namely none. If persons listened to such "inexpert" advice then they have assumed their own risk for doing so.
(that again is just the legal argument)
(I have evaluated some other bases that could serve as potential causes of action against the WTS with respect to different matters which I may publish in the future).
You raise a good question for newbies. I am a trial consultant among other things and the question is close to heart just finishing a weeklong medical malpractice suit against a famous hospital. Anyone can sue for any reason the issue is two part,
- Finding a good trial lawyer who would take the case on contingency, since this trial would be cost prohibitive for the average Joe Dirt ex JW
- Being able to prove negligence since the burden of proof is on the plaintiff. Here is where it becomes very hard to prove since every religion is protected by a blanket waiver of membership by choice. In plain English from a jury’s verdict it would be, “you made your bed you slept in it, Watchtower not guilty."
As the previous poster mentioned it is much easier to sue for sex abuse, blood, etc. and the disclosure part of pre baptism would signal the slow end of them in the US. If this were to happen the slow growth would come from mental retards, and their own children, which I am not sure there is much difference
Victor, how 'bout the case of those born into the cult? They never had the change to choose a bed, much less make it. Any difference?
You would sue the family, which becomes circular hopelesnes
Okay, l'm an Internet dummy. Probably no one here is as stupid as I am about the Internet. There. Now I feel better. Okay, since we've got that established, I've got a couple of problems.
1. I can't log on as Big Tex. Every time I do, the system logs me in as my password (which it's doing right now. Obviously I'll need a new password. I've tried logging off, but when I log back in it's still calling me 061983. The only reason I'm putting this out there now is that I've posted once and instead of coming up as Big Tex it says 061983. When I click on the XP option, I get a blue panel on the left hand side of the screen and it tells me that I'm logged on as Big Tex with an alias of 061983. Urfggghh Additionally if I don't log in I'm listed as 'Guest'.
2. Also, I can't figure out how to email Simon to alert him about this.