Kubala v. Hartford Roman Catholic Diocesan Corp.

41 A.3d 351 (2011)

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Kubala v. Hartford Roman Catholic Diocesan Corp.

Connecticut Superior Court
41 A.3d 351 (2011)

  • Written by Elizabeth Yingling, JD

Facts

Dorothy Kubala (plaintiff) attended a healing service at a Catholic church that was part of the Hartford Roman Catholic Diocesan Corporation (diocese) (defendant). During the service, Kubala was prayed over at the altar and then fell backwards as she “rested in the spirit,” without anyone catching her. As a result, Kubala hit her head on the floor and suffered severe injuries. Kubala sued for negligence, alleging that the diocese failed to exercise the degree and skill ordinarily used by a church under the circumstances, failed to adequately train and supervise the people responsible for catching attendees during the service, and failed to take appropriate safety precautions. The diocese sought dismissal of the claims, asserting that Kubala’s allegations were clergy-malpractice claims that involved religious doctrines and practices and that, therefore, the Free Exercise Clause and Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution precluded the court from resolving those claims. Kubala countered that the First Amendment was inapplicable because the tort claims did not require a determination or analysis of religious practices. By analogy, Kubala argued that courts had been allowed to determine cases involving clergy sexual abuse of church members.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Alexander, J.)

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