Religious Institution Litigation
As a firm of skilled litigators, Todd & Weld attorneys have broad trial and arbitration experience in practice before state and federal courts. Controversies in or concerning church, congregation, synagogue, mosque and other religious institutions require particular expertise. Attorneys at Todd & Weld have developed that expertise from experience litigating conflicts involving religious institutions and offer seasoned judgment in counseling religious institutions, leaders and members involved in disputes.
Legal issues within a religious community can present in many ways:
- Issues with regard to religious institution governance
- Issues with regard to religious institution property
- Issues with regard to religious institution employees
- Issues with regard to religious institution dissolution
Todd & Weld attorneys can bring expertise and sensitivity to solving these issues through consultation, mediation, or trial.
Some of our representative cases:
- After an evidentiary hearing, the firm prevailed on a motion for preliminary injunction in a case in which control of a church and its $30 million building were in dispute. The Court held that the senior pastor and one church faction had wrongfully seized control of the church in violation of by-laws. After the decision, the firm's clients were able to reach a successful, global settlement of then pending claims and counterclaims in federal and state court.
- After three years of litigation in federal and state court, the firm prevailed in defense of a church in its dispute with the national organization of churches with which it had been affiliated for more than 200 years. The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts upheld the ownership rights of the congregational church after the church disaffiliated from the national organization.
- The firm provided personal representation to the Cardinal of the Archdiocese of Boston in a civil action brought by alleged victims of abuse by a defrocked priest and was instrumental in working toward the eventual settlement of multiple claims of abuse.
- Litigation over the estate rights of property and publications of a world-renowned Rabbi.
- Successfully represented a Boston area Islamic group post-9/11 in litigation involving religious freedom and civil rights concerning the group's efforts to construct a mosque and cultural center in Roxbury.
- Litigation concerning the right to control an investment account of an orthodox Jewish school/yeshiva.
- Advice on numerous employment matters, including termination and compensation of clergy and other church personnel.