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F.G. v. MacDonell

New Jersey Supreme Court
696 A.2d 697 (1997)


Facts

Rector Alex MacDonell (defendant) induced F.G. (plaintiff), a parishioner who consulted him for counseling, to engage in an extramarital sexual relationship. Eventually F.G. told assistant rector Harper (defendant) about the misconduct and sought counseling from him instead. After F.G. raised “the possibility of notifying the parishes” about the misconduct, Harper allegedly induced her to consent to disclose her name to the congregation, then disclosed her name in letters and sermons that mischaracterized MacDonell’s conduct and the nature of their relationship. F.G. brought a lawsuit that included claims for negligent pastoral counseling, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and breach of fiduciary duty against both MacDonell and Harper. The trial court dismissed the claims for clergy malpractice and breach of fiduciary duty, but the appellate court reversed, prompting an appeal to the New Jersey Supreme Court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Pollock, J.)

Dissent (O’Hern, J.)

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