Grunwald v Bornfreund
Eastern District Court of New York 696 F.Supp. 838
In action under RICO and state law, plaintiff moved for writ of mandate prohibiting rabbinical congress and defendants from making any efforts to have plaintiff withdraw action and submit it to rabbinical court and from excommunicating plaintiff, his counsel and staff. The District Court, Sifton, J., held that: (1) it was beyond the powers of court to stop excommunication so long as excommunicationresults of nothing more than plaintiff being excluded from his religious community, and (2) allegations that plaintiff will suffer battery, trespass or theft in the absence of religious prohibition against those acts did not warrant injunction in absence of showing that such injury was imminent or likely.
Hutterville Hutterian Brethren, inc v Waldner
Supreme Court of South Dakota 791 N.W. 2d 169
Background: Members of one faction of communal religious colony brought action against opposing faction, seeking resolution of governance dispute. The Fifth Judicial Circuit Court, Brown County, Jack R. Von Wald), J., dismissed complaint for lack of jurisdiction, concluding that the matter involved a religious dispute. Plaintiff faction appealed.
Holding: The Supreme Court, Zinter), J., held that state courts had no jurisdiction to consider governance dispute between the factions, as resolution of the governance question was dependent upon resolution of religious disputes.
Tran v Fiorenza
Court of Appeals of Texas, Houston (1st District) 934 S.W. 2d 740
Priest brought defamation action against bishop and diocese of church, to recover for communications by bishop that priest was excommunicated. The 333rd District Court, Harris County, J.S. Blackburn, J., granted summary judgment for bishop and diocese. The Court of Appeals, Taft), J., held that issue of whether priest was actually excommunicated was ecclesiastical matter, such that First Amendment barred action.
Korean Presbyterian Church of Seattle Normalization Committee v Lee
Court of Appeals of Washington Division 1 75 Wash.App. 833
Excommunicated church members sued church and church officials for tort of outrage for announcing excommunications to congregation from pulpit. The Superior Court, Snohomish County, Larry McKeeman), J., denied defendants' motion for summary judgment. Plaintiffs appealed. The Court of Appeals, Kennedy), J., held that ecclesiastical abstention doctrine precluded recovery.
O’Connor v Diocese of Honolulu
Supreme Court of Hawaii 77 Hawai’I 383
Catholic newspaper publisher brought action against diocese and various diocesan officials, claiming that he was wrongfully excommunicateddue to diocese's opposition to views expressed in his newspaper. The First Circuit Court, City and County of Honolulu, dismissed with prejudice, and publisher appealed. The Supreme Court, Moon), C.J., held that ecclesiastical abstention doctrine embodied in both State and Federal Constitutions barred state court from addressing any of publisher's claims because their resolution would require resolution of controversies over church doctrine, law, or polity.
Ming Tung v China Buddhist Association
Supreme Court,Appellate Division, Fist Department, New York 124 A.D. 3d 13
Background: Members of religious organization until they were excommunicatedcommenced proceeding under Article 78, seeking an order directing organization to hold an annual membership meeting, as required by its bylaws, appoint a receiver to determine names and addresses of all its members eligible to vote, and hold a vote regarding its future. The Supreme Court, New York County, Geoffrey D. Wright), J., 2012 WL 11946612), granted the petition to extent of invalidating organization's membership meeting and directing that another general meeting be held with members included. Organization appealed.
Holding: The Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Gische), J., held that members' petition presented nonjusticiable religious issues that could not be resolved through application of neutral principles of law.
Anderson V Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
Court of Appeals of Tennessee 2007 WL 161035 (Only the westlaw citation is currently available)
No Synopsis is available on Westlaw at this time
You may want to make special note of this one as the suit was for intentional infliction of emotional distress
Marks v Estate of Hartgerink
Surpeme Court of Iowa 528 N.W.2d 539
After he was disciplined and ultimately excommunicated by church, former member brought action against church officials for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Church officials moved for summary judgment, and the District Court, Butler County, B.H. McKinley), J., granted motion. Former member appealed, and the Supreme Court, Andreasen), J., held that: (1) decision of church to excommunicatemember was purely ecclesiastical decision with which court would not interfere; (2) letters which had been sent only to member had not been published and could not give rise to defamation action; (3) oral communications to other church members that member had been disciplined and excommunicated were true and were absolutely protected; (4) qualified privilege attaches to statements made in context of church disciplinary proceeding or during course of ecclesiastical trial; (5) statements were not made with actual malice and were privileged as evidence presented to establish actual malice was evidence of conduct of persons who were not defendants and was irrelevant; and (6) conduct of church officials did not give rise to action for intentional infliction of emotional distress.