In Knoxville Tenn., Matt Lincoln wanted to be touched by God when he went to the Lakewind Church. It was the contact with the floor that he did not plan for when he was consumed by the holy spirit. He is not suing the church for negligence in failing to take preparations for those who lose their balance or consciousness when visited by the spirit during services. He is seeking $2.5 million of a more earthly reward.
Lincoln, 57, required two surgeries after a 2007 fall — caused when the force of the spirit knocked him off his feet. He said that he had been knocked down before but that someone had always caught him. The church is crying foul –saying that Lincoln was laughing on the ground after the fall.
It is actually an interesting torts cases. These churches expect (and indeed invite) people to be struck by the spirit. It is, therefore, a foreseeable component of their activities. The question is what a reasonable evangelical church would do, particularly given the large number of older individuals.
Of course, it was the holy spirit that did it, but long-arm jurisdiction would probably not reach that culprit. That leaves the church.
Lakewind is arguing contributory or comparative negligence on Lincoln’s part. However, since individuals are struck by the spirit, it is common to see the faithful thrown backward or violently lurch after the touching. Indeed, such sudden impact is viewed as an article of faith by some.
This could make for some interesting motions practice, though I expect a jury would be fairly hostile to the evangelical injury theory.
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