Saturday, August 12, 2017

Court Refuses To Enforce Arbitration Award In Church Control Dispute

In Patterson v. Shelton, (ED PA, Aug. 11, 2017), a Pennsylvania federal district court dismissed an attempt to obtain enforcement of an arbitration award entered over ten years ago in a dispute over control of the General Assembly of the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ.  The underlying litigation began 22 years ago.  the court said in part:
Petitioner seeks to have this Court adjudicate a church controversy by confirming an Arbitration Award, albeit one that was vacated, which would require extensive inquiry into church matters. A solution to the parties’ problems involves more than mere application of neutral principles of law. It involves a deeper look into the church’s control over its leaders, how they acquire and maintain authority, and how the church is being managed.... Probing deeper into these matters would do exactly what the law prohibits courts from doing: becoming entangled in church issues.
The court also relied on several other grounds in dismissing the case.