Minister Not Liable for Disclosing and Condemning Deceased’s Suicide in Funeral Homily
From Hullibarger v. Archdiocese of Detroit, decided yesterday by the Michigan Court of Appeals (Presiding Judge Redford, joined by Judges Borrello and Tukel):
Plaintiff’s son committed suicide in early December 2018, but his family kept the manner of his death from the public. Plaintiff’s pastor, defendant Father Don LaCuesta, officiated at the funeral and during his homily revealed the suicide of plaintiff’s son to the public. He then proceeded to preach about suicide as a grave sin and specifically about how it endangered the immortal soul of plaintiff’s son. The trial court concluded that Father LaCuesta’s conduct was protected by the ecclesiastical abstention doctrine, and the negligent hiring, supervision and retention allegation, Count Three, was barred for other reasons as well, and thus granted summary disposition to defendants as to all claims. Finding no error in the circuit court’s reasoning, we affirm its order….
[R]esolution of plaintiff’s claims would require a decision regarding matters of church doctrine and polity and, therefore, the ecclesiastical abstention doctrine applied to bar plaintiff’s claims. Plaintiff argues her complaint does not seek resolution of religious issues. Rather, plaintiff asserts her claims
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