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Roman Catholic Archbishop of San Francisco v. Sheffield

Court of Appeals of California
93 Cal.Rptr. 338 (1971)


Sheffield (plaintiff) entered into a contract with the Canons Regular of St. Augustine (defendant), a Catholic monastic order, of Switzerland for the purchase of a trained St. Bernard dog. Sheffield made the first payments, but the Canons Regular did not send the dog, and would not give him a refund. Sheffield filed suit against the Canons regular, the Pope, the Vatican, and the Archbishop of San Francisco, his hometown. Sheffield contended that the Catholic Church and its local dioceses are alter egos of one another, with the Pope appointing local officials in San Francisco merely to manage the church’s affairs there, and that canon law held the church to be a hierarchy, with the pope at the top. The Archbishop replied that he was not a party to the contract to purchase a St. Bernard, and that the Archdiocese of San Francisco was a separate legal entity from the church, with its own assets and obligations. The Archbishop moved for the case against him to be dismissed, and the lower court denied that motion. The Archbishop appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (David, J.)

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