Episcopal News Service reports:
Mobile County 13th Judicial District Judge Ben Brooks said in his Aug. 22 decision that Alabama was not the proper place for Sauls to bring such a suit.
The former chief operating officer said that because the Episcopal Church is present in Alabama, he ought to be able to file suit there. The church had argued that the case did not belong in the Alabama courts but, instead, in New York where Sauls was based.
The judge agreed with the church, saying all the actions described in the suit took place in New York, where Sauls still lives and where the church maintains its denominational office.
“The only potential Alabama witnesses are the lawyers [Sauls] hired,” Brooks noted.
Alabama-based Michael Upchurch, who attends St. James Episcopal in Fairhope, Alabama, was appointed by Brooks as mediator after oral arguments followed Sauls’ filing of the lawsuit in February, a year after he had lost his position with the Episcopal Church.
Sauls’ suit against the DFMS and an unspecified number of unnamed defendants associated with the church claimed that Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s decision to replace him as chief operating officer had damaged his reputation and made it difficult, if not impossible, for him to be employed elsewhere in the church.
Sauls filed suit in early February, nearly a year after Curry relieved him of his job. In announcing the lawsuit, the presiding bishop said that, in consultation with legal counsel, he had “tried his best to negotiate a severance with Bishop Sauls.” Curry said he made “a good faith and compassionate offer, but that offer was not accepted.”
The presiding bishop also said that “as a steward of church resources” he could not go beyond that offer and explain it in good conscience to the church.
The entire story is here.