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SCOTUS declines church property dispute case

April 29, 2013

The Supreme Court of the United States will not take a case involving a dispute between churches over property.

The U.S. justices considered The Presbytery of Ohio Valley, Inc., et al. v. OPC, Inc., et al., 12-907, at the court’s April 26 conference and declined to grant certiorari. Olivet Presbyterian Church and the denominational organization it was previously affiliated with, the Presbyterian Church (USA) and later subsidiary organizations, ended up in court over property Olivet wanted to keep after it decided to leave PC (USA).

The trial court ruled in favor of Olivet, citing that the deed of the property belonged to Olivet. The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed summary judgment for Olivet and ordered judgment entered in favor of the national church organization. The COA found that Olivet has no right, title or interest in the property.

The Indiana Supreme Court in July 2012 reversed, finding neither the trial court nor the Court of Appeals correctly ruled in the dispute. The majority of justices held that genuine issues of disputed fact must be resolved at trial rather than on summary judgment. Justices Mark Massa and Frank Sullivan Jr. dissented without opinion.

The SCOTUS also denied cert to Darrell Wayne Hughes v. Indiana, 12-8926. Prisoner Darrell Hughes petitioned the court pro se in August 2012 to take his case alleging conspiracy against numerous elected officials, judges, and correctional department officials.

Justice Stephen Breyer, 74, was not at court Monday after injuring his shoulder in a bicycle accident Friday. He was hospitalized and underwent reverse shoulder replacement surgery. He is expected to be released from the hospital early this week.

The U.S. Supreme Court has yet to hand down opinions in two Indiana cases before it – Maetta Vance v. Ball State University, et al., 11-566; and Vernon Hugh Brown v. Monsanto Co., et al., 11-796. At issue in Vance is whether the supervisor liability rule applies to harassment by people whom the employer authorizes to direct or oversee the victim’s daily work, or whether the supervisor liability rule is limited to those harassers who have the power to “hire, fire, demote, promote, transfer or discipline” their victim. The Circuit courts have been split in decisions on this issue.

In Brown, the justices will decided whether the federal circuit erred by refusing to find the patent had been exhausted on seeds sold for planting and by creating an exception to the doctrine of patent exhaustion for self-replicating technologies.

 

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