|Case of the Month|
Glendon Allaby, et al, Respondents, v. R.G. Stair and Faith Cathedral
Fellowship, Inc. a/k/a Overcomer Ministries, Appellant
Respondents brought separate actions against appellants in the Colleton County Court of Common Pleas alleging that through misrepresentations regarding the nature of appellants’ operation and their use of funds, appellants induced respondents to give money to the operation. Respondents asserted causes of action for fraud, negligent misrepresentation, breach of fiduciary duty, conversion, violation of the South Carolina Unfair Trade Practices Act and revocation, rescission and/or invalidation of gifts. They sought actual and punitive damages.
Appellants made a motion to have the cases dismissed on the ground that the court did not have the jurisdiction to intervene in an ecclesiastical matter. The motion was denied. Following a trial, the jury returned verdicts for actual and punitive damages for each of the respondents.
Appellants have filed an appeal in which they argue the lower court erred in refusing to dismiss the action on the ground that it does not have subject matter jurisdiction over claims against a church and its leader by former followers based on disputes over religious matters/ecclesiastical questions and controversies. Appellants also argue the lower court erred in allowing respondents to challenge appellants’ tax exempt status as a church. Finally, appellants argue the lower court erred in refusing to render judgment for them on the grounds that causes of action for fraud, deceit and negligent misrepresentation cannot be based on representation or promises of future action; respondents failed to present clear and convincing evidence that appellants’ representations about the use of their gifts/donations was false; respondents are not entitled to a return of their charitable donations even if they were not used for their intended purpose; there was no fiduciary relationship between appellant Stair and respondents that was breached; and the Unfair Trade Practices Act does not apply to churches.
The South Carolina Supreme Court will hear oral argument in this case at 10:30 on Wednesday, April 7, 2010.
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View Oral Arguments**
(51:27 minutes playing time)
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