The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (“LDS Church”) is seeking to dismiss a lawsuit alleging fraud brought by ex-member James Huntsman, several Salt Lake City media outlets, including FOX 13 and The Salt Lake Tribune, reported.
In the motion for summary judgment filed on Aug. 9 by the LDS Church’s counsel and Larson LLP partner Rick Richmond, the LDS Church denies Mr. Huntsman’s allegations that “church leaders ever misled members over spending of tithing funds on commercial projects, including the upscale City Creek shopping center in downtown Salt Lake City,” says The Salt Lake Tribune. They provided U.S. District Court Judge Stephen V. Wilson of the Central District of California with “confidential financial data— redacted in public court documents—that detail how money used for City Creek instead came from ‘commercial entities owned by the Church’ and ‘earnings on invested reserve funds,’ rather than actual tithing donated by members.'”
FOX 13 reported that Rick wrote in the brief, “James Huntsman seeks an extraordinary remedy—the refund of his voluntary, unrestricted contributions to his former church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. [Mr.] Huntsman quit making contributions and resigned from the Church because he had a crisis of faith and no longer believes in certain religious doctrines or practices. [Mr.] Huntsman attempts to avoid the obvious obstacles to seeking a refund by cloaking his claim in the garb of a fraud action.”
This motion begins the “series of legal exchanges” that Judge Wilson scheduled prior to a hearing on Aug. 30, when it will be decided if the case will proceed. The Larson LLP team working with Rick on the case includes associates Matthew S. Manacek, Tim C. Tanner, and Troy S. Tessem.
Read the full article by Ben Winslow of FOX 13, which includes the public version of the brief, here and the full article by Tony Semerad of The Salt Lake Tribune here.