Fishers Adolescent Catholic Enrichment v. Elizabeth Bridgewater, et al. - 3/19/13

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Tuesday  March 19, 2013 
10:30 AM  EST

10:30 a.m. 93A02-1202-EX-145. FACES, Inc., is private, non-profit organization formed to provide social and educational opportunities for home-schooled children.  The founders of the organization are Catholic parents and the majority, though not all, of the members are Catholic.  At the time this dispute arose, FACES offered a number of educational courses, none of which related to religion.  FACES also sponsored occasional social events.  In 2008, FACES sponsored a ball, and one of the parents, Elizabeth Bridgewater, requested special dietary accommodations for her child, Alyssa, who planned to attend.  Alyssa suffers from a condition that can cause a life-threatening allergic reaction if she eats certain foods.  The Bridgewaters were unhappy with FACES’ treatment of their daughter’s dietary needs and filed an accommodation complaint with the Indiana Civil Rights Commission (“ICRC”).   Shortly thereafter, the Bridgewaters were expelled from FACES.  They filed an additional complaint with the ICRC, alleging that FACES had retaliated against them due to their filing of the accommodation complaint.

 
FACES moved to dismiss the complaints, arguing that the ICRC did not have jurisdiction over FACES, which it characterized as a religious-based organization.  An ALJ ultimately ruled that the ICRC did have jurisdiction under Indiana’s Civil Rights Law (“ICRL”) because FACES’ functions “relate to” education.  See Ind. Code § 22-9-1-3(1)(4).  The ALJ later ruled on the merits of the Bridgewater’s complaints, concluding that FACES did not commit an unlawful discriminatory practice as to accommodating Alyssa, but did commit an unlawful discriminatory practice when it expelled the Bridgewater family after they filed the accommodation complaint.  The ALJ awarded the Bridgwaters $5000 in damages and ordered FACES to: (1) cease and desist from retaliating against persons because they filed a complaint with the ICRC; (2) post a link to the ALJ’s order on all web sites on which they have communicated information regarding the case; and (3) offer reinstatement of the Bridgewater family to full membership, including all benefits.  Both parties appealed, and the original order was affirmed in all respects, except in that the ALJ decreased the amount of damages to $2500.
 

Both parties now appeal.  The main issues raised on appeal relate to the ICRC’s jurisdiction over FACES and the corrective action FACES was ordered to undertake.  In addition, the parties challenge the ALJ’s conclusions as to accommodation and retaliation, and damages. 

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  1. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  2. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  3. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

  4. The fee increase would be livable except for the 11% increase in spending at the Disciplinary Commission. The Commission should be focused on true public harm rather than going on witch hunts against lawyers who dare to criticize judges.

  5. Marijuana is safer than alcohol. AT the time the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act was enacted all major pharmaceutical companies in the US sold marijuana products. 11 Presidents of the US have smoked marijuana. Smoking it does not increase the likelihood that you will get lung cancer. There are numerous reports of canabis oil killing many kinds of incurable cancer. (See Rick Simpson's Oil on the internet or facebook).

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