Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Litigation - the Diocese of Rio Grande

The Diocese of Rio Grande has been embroiled for a number of years now in a lawsuit with one of its larger parishes, St. Francis on-the-Hill in El Paso, Texas, whose congregation voted to withdraw from the Diocese on October 21, 2008. The parish brought a pre-emptive suit in the 210th District Court of Texas against the Diocese and ECUSA to declare that it owned its property free and clear of any trust. The latter parties filed a motion for summary judgment, which Judge Gonzalo Garcia initially granted on February 10, 2010. Two weeks later, Judge Garcia reconsidered his decision, rescinded it, and called for further briefing.

In December 2010, Judge Garcia reinstated his ruling in favor of the Diocese and ECUSA, and a final judgment was entered in the case on March 30, 2011. The parish has appealed the judgment to the Eighth Court of Appeals in El Paso. As such, it seems likely it will become subject to the ruling which the Texas Supreme Court eventually hands down in the appeal it has agreed to hear in the Fort Worth case.

In the post below, I take note of a brand-new lawsuit brought by the Diocese and its new bishop against the parish, its rector and vestry, while the current appeal is pending, for fraud and punitive damages based on the parish's ongoing conduct of its services, worship and business during the litigation of the original lawsuit.

And in the following post, I cover an amazing sequel to the story of a parish which wanted to avoid every possibility of a lawsuit after their departure, and so left their buildings, furnishings, bank accounts and endowments behind, to the tune of $2 million and more. They recently discovered that the Diocese did not regard this sacrifice as fully satisfying its requirements; having taken all their physical assets, it wanted still more from them:

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