Sunday, March 13, 2022

Defamation Suit Dismissed On Ecclesiastical Abstention Doctrine

In Heras v. Diocese of Corpus Christie, (TX App, March 10, 2022), a Texas state appellate court affirmed the dismissal on ecclesiastical abstention grounds of defamation suits by two priests who were included on the diocese's list of clergy who have been credibly accused of sexually abusing a minor. The court said in part:

[W]e hold appellants’ defamation suits are barred by the ecclesiastical abstention doctrine because the substance and nature of the appellants’ claims against appellees are inextricably intertwined with appellees’ internal directive for openness and transparency.... More specifically, appellants’ claims are inextricably intertwined with appellees’ decision to release the list incompliance with an internal church directive....