Judge Allows Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against Church to Proceed

A Superior Court judge recently ruled to allow a wrongful death lawsuit to proceed against a church and its pastor.

The lawsuit arises out of the circumstances surrounding the brutal rape and killing of a 35 year old church day-care employee by the church’s janitor. The woman’s husband and children were expecting her to come home from work as usual, but instead were informed that her body had been found in a roadside ditch the next morning several miles south of the church.

Authorities have since charged the church janitor with raping and killing her. His trial was initially set in Maryland, but has since been moved to Delaware. Trial has yet to begin, with the defendant having pleaded not guilty.

The woman’s husband sued the church and its pastor in April, alleging that the church discovered the janitor was a convicted sex offender against a child, and based on that information decided to fire him. According to the lawsuit, the janitor was allowed to work a final period of two weeks at the church, but the employees were not informed regarding the reason he was let go or the nature of his past. The suit further accuses the pastor and his church of negligently hiring and supervising the janitor.

The attorney representing the church and pastor asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit, claiming that it does not meet the standard under Delaware’s employment laws regarding when employees or their descendants can sue. The attorney also claims that the family forfeited any ability to sue when they accepted worker’s compensation and death benefits from the church. The judge denied the motion, and stated trial will likely take place in late 2014 to early 2015.

The janitor is also a named defendant to the civil suit, though he has denied the allegations.

In many cases, the circumstances under which an individual dies accidentally or is killed are not just an accident. Unfortunately, sometimes people lose their lives because of someone else’s carelessness or negligence. The death of the victim does not always prevent the responsible party from being held accountable for his actions. The family members of the deceased accident victim may still be able to hold a negligent party responsible for the death of their family member through a wrongful death lawsuit. In this case, for example, the lawsuit is claiming that the church and pastor’s negligent actions led to the defendant being able to kill the victim. This means that they are alleging that if the church had not acted negligently, the crime would most likely not have occurred.

Wrongful death claims in our state are governed by the Maryland Wrongful Death Statute. The lawsuit is brought by the victim’s surviving family members on their own behalf. The claim seeks to compensate the family members of the loss of the victim’s life and his or her companionship, love, and financial support that the family would have received had the victim not died.

If you believe that your loved one died because of the wrongful or negligent actions of another in the Maryland or Washington D.C. area, contact the experienced wrongful death attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen. As experienced attorneys, we have represented families who have suffered from wrongful deaths caused by car accidents, medical malpractice, hospital negligence and other traumatic events. Contact us today in order to schedule your free initial consultation. You can reach us through our website, or by calling 1-800-654-1949 today.

More Blog Posts:

Baseball League Faces Lawsuit over Allegedly Dangerous Bleachers, Maryland Accident Law Blog, published September 17, 2013
Father Files Lawsuit Following Daughter’s Purported Liposuction Surgery Related Death, Maryland Accident Law Blog, published September 3, 2013

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