Monday, January 13, 2014

Earlier Appellate Decision In Texas Church Property Case Withdrawn In Light of New State Supreme Court Ruling

In Windwood Presbyterian Church, Inc. v. Presbyterian Church (USA), (TX App., Jan. 7, 2014), the Texas Court of Appeals withdrew an opinion it had issued in 2012 (see prior posting) in a dispute over ownership of church property and issued a new opinion taking account of a subsequent Texas Supreme Court ruling in the Masterson case that the "neutral principles of law" approach should be used in Texas in deciding church property cases. (See prior posting.) The Court of Appeals concluded:
... [T]he denominational church’s [summary judgment] motion was based solely on the contention that this property dispute should be resolved by applying the hierarchical deference approach and deferring to governing church authorities on the issue.... Because this was the only ground urged for summary judgment, under Masterson, the denominational church’s summary judgment must be reversed and remanded to the trial court.