Cleric Breach of Duty In Illinois
In Illinois, a fiduciary relationship is recognized to exist when "'a special confidence is reposed in one who, by reason of such confidence, must act in good faith and with due regard to the interests of the person reposing such confidence.'" Amato v. Greenquist, 287 Ill. App. 3d 921, 926, 679 N.E.2d 446, 223 Ill. Dec. 261 (1997) at 932, quoting In re Estate of Osborn, 128 Ill. App. 3d 453, 455, 470 N.E.2d 1114, 83 Ill. Dec. 694 (1984).
Such a relationship may exist as a matter of law, "'or it may be the result of a more informal relationship - moral, social, domestic or even personal in its origin.'" Amato, 287 Ill. App. 3d at 932, quoting Estate of Osborn, 128 Ill. App. 3d at 455.
Under Illinois law, a contention that a cleric has breached his duty as a fiduciary is not actionable. Amato, 287 Ill. App. 3d at 932. This court explained as follows:
"We believe that when a parishioner lodges such a claim, religion is not 'merely incidental' to a plaintiff's relationship with a defendant, 'it is the foundation for it.' the fiduciary relationship is inescapably premised upon the cleric's status as an expert in theological and spiritual matters." Amato, 287 Ill. App. 3d at 932, quoting H.R.B. v. J.L.G., 913 S.W.2d 92, 99 (Mo. App. 1995).