Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Unauthorized Class Action Sought Millions For Denial of Religious Freedom and Right To Marry By Utah and LDS Church

Last Friday, a class action was filed in federal district court in Utah against the state of Utah and the LDS Church on behalf of "all persons denied freedom of religion and the right to marry"-- at least 500 people according to the complaint.  The complaint (full text) in Winburn v. State of Utah, (D UT, filed Dec. 27, 2013), describes the LDS Church as "an entity of defendant State of Utah," and alleges violations of the Fair Debt Collection Act, the Utah Pattern of Unlawful Activity Act and intentional infliction of emotional distress. It seeks damages of at least $25,000 for each class member. Yesterday, the lead plaintiffs in the case filed a "Notice of Voluntary Dismissal" (full text). The plaintiffs, Pidge Winburn and Amy Fowler-- a same-sex couple who were married on Dec. 23 after a federal court invalidated Utah's ban on same-sex marriage-- say they did not authorize the lawsuit, never spoke to the attorney who filed it, and learned of it only through a phone call from a reporter.  Apparently attorney E. Craig Smay who filed the suit learned of Winburn and Fowler through a feature article about them in the Dec. 26 Salt Lake Tribune.  According to yesterday's Salt Lake Tribune, Fowler says she plans to file a formal bar complaint against the attorney.