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Wrongful Death Lawsuit against ministry dismissed

Recently, a judge in Waterloo, Illinois dismissed a wrongful death lawsuit filed against Joyce Meyer Ministries by the surviving family members of a woman and her children who were murdered by her husband, the security chief for the ministry. The wrongful death suit alleges that the ministry should have known that its security chief was behind anonymous threats to himself and to his wife, and that the ministry should have told the man's wife that he was having an extra-marital affair. The man allegedly strangled his family in order to start a new relationship with his girlfriend, without having to go through a divorce and potentially losing his job. The anonymous threats were sent to cover his tracks and make it appear that there was someone else threatening the family. The man was sentenced to life imprisonment for the killings. The attorneys for the wife's family have stated that the decision to dismiss the case will be appealed.

Whether they occur in Illinois or in California, wrongful deaths caused by the negligence of a person or an institution entrusted with the victim's care are devastating. What is especially troublesome in such cases is the fact that had the responsible party adhered to an ordinary standard of care, the death would not have occurred. Wrongful deaths include those caused by the failure of an organization to protect its members and others from the harm caused by a third party.

It is not always clear whether or not there has been a wrongful death requiring a judicial remedy, as this case demonstrates. There is a clear dispute in this case over whether or not the ministry should be held responsible for the security chief's murder of his family, and there is room for debate as to whether or not its conduct, or lack of action, rises to the level of negligence. Negligence cannot be clearly inferred in all cases involving a wrongful death allegation.

Because of the pain and distress caused by the wrongful death of a family member or loved one, those impacted by the death may be entitled to receive an appropriate financial compensation in appropriate cases. The loved ones or family members of the victim may be able to obtain a personal injury judgment against the defendant and monetary compensation in the form of damages.

Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "Judge dismisses lawsuit against Joyce Meyer Ministries over Coleman murders," Marlon A. Walker, Feb. 20, 2013

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