White v. Blackburn

In White v. Blackburn, 787 P.2d 1315 (Utah Ct. App. 1990), parents asserted a claim for malpractice against a clergyman, not for negligently referring a parishioner to outside counseling--the factual allegations in the case at hand, but for negligently failing to refer their son "to trained professionals." Id. at 1318. In dismissing the clergy malpractice claim, the court of appeals stated: Appellant wishes to impose a duty upon clergy to make further inquiry into the alleged family conflicts, and then, if beyond their expertise, refer parishioners to others who are qualified to treat such problems. Under the present circumstances, charging lay clergy with this duty of care goes too far because it approaches the same level of care imposed upon trained professionals in medicine and psychology. . . . "Even assuming that workable standards of care could be established in the present case, . . . such a duty would necessarily be intertwined with the religious philosophy of the particular denomination or ecclesiastical teachings of the religious entity." (787 P.2d at 1318-19.)