Friday, August 14, 2009

Court Dismisses Civil Rights Claim Against Mormon Church By FLDS Member

In Cooke v. Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 70192 (D AZ, Aug. 11, 2009), a member of the FLDS Church filed a federal civil rights action against the mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints claiming that it acted in collusion with the states of Arizona and Utah to engage in religious persecution of the FLDS Church. Plaintiff's amended complaint alleges in part that "[t]he Mormon Church has used the state of Utah [to conduct a] religious war against Warren Jeffs and his people," has "launched a successful media campaign to label us child abusers and polygamists," and "labled [sic] Warren Jeffs a terrorist [and] taken away our homes and our property."

While rejecting a res judicata defense, the Arizona federal district court dismissed plaintiff's complaint for failure to state a claim under 42 USC Sec. 1983. It found that, under the Iqbal standard, plaintiff has not plausibly alleged facts showing that the Latter Day Saints church was involved with state officials in a way that made it a state actor. However, the court indicated that plaintiff could still file an amended complaint to cure his pleading deficiencies.