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Friday
May252012

11.7 Million Dollar Lawsuit Contemplated

“An indemnity is a sum paid by A to B by way of compensation for a particular loss suffered by B.  The indemnitor (A) may or may not be responsible for the loss suffered by the indemnitee (B).  Forms of indemnity include cash payments, repairs, replacement, and reinstatement.” (Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia)

When someone harms another person or his property, paying an indemnity or damages for losses suffered is a deeply rooted aspect of biblical and civil justice.  For example, “But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, ‘Look, Lord!...if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount’” (Luke 19:8).  Or, “If a man borrows an animal from his neighbor and it is injured or dies while the owner is not present, he must make restitution” (Ex 22:14).

The last section in the Sovereign Grace Bylaws deals with the subject of indemnification or the conditions under which a Board of Director, officer or agent is immune from or liable for damages due another person. 

Section 11.1 Immunity for Serving in Capacity as Board Member.  A member of the Board of Directors shall be immune from liability [to damages] by reason of his being or having been a director of the Corporation if he shall perform his duties as a director in good faith, in a manner he reasonably believes to be in the best interests of the Corporation, and with the care that an ordinarily prudent person in a like position would use under similar circumstances.” 

This section seeks protection against a Board of Director provided he has performed his duties in good faith, in the best [e.g. lawful] interests of SGM, and with care. 

Section 11.2 Immunity for Service as Officer or Other Non-Board Member.  No officer or other person who renders service to or for the Corporation, in a capacity other than as a member of the Board of Directors, shall be liable, and no cause of action may be brought, for damages resulting from the exercise of judgment or discretion in connection with the duties or responsibilities of such officer, or, in the case of other persons, for damages resulting from an act or omission in rendering such services, unless the act or omission involved willful or wanton, conduct.”

This section seeks protection for officers or other agents who are not Board Members but provide services for Sovereign Grace Ministries (e.g. Bob Kauflin or Gene Emerson in the past).  They are not liable for their decisions, acts or omissions unless they involve willful (known wrong doing) or wanton (deliberate) misconduct.

Section 11.4 Indemnification against Third Party Lawsuits and Other Proceedings. …The Corporation may indemnify [protect against lawsuits] any Director who is made a party to any proceeding by reason of service in that capacity unless it is established that the act or omission of the Director was committed in bad faith or was the result of active and deliberate dishonesty, or unless the Director actually received an improper personal benefit in money, property, or services, or in the case of any criminal proceeding, the Director had reasonable cause to believe that the act or omission was unlawful.” 

This is an extremely important paragraph because it is one of the reasons Dave Harvey and the interim Board rigged the “Adjudication and Adjudication Procedure” last October (see SGM Board Rejects Impartial, Just and Thorough Adjudication Process!) and then stopped the proceeding altogether (see Get Out of Jail Free Card for C.J. – No Adjudication Hearing).  They were scared to death of a lawsuit for acting in “bad faith,“ not acting in the “best interests” of SGM with “care,“ “willful or wanton, conduct,” “active and deliberate dishonesty,” and “unlawful” acts or omissions like denying me due process.  President Obama stays awake at night worrying about nuclear terrorism.  Tommy Hill stays awake at night worrying about lawsuits. 

This fear of a lawsuit produced a willingness by the interim Board to break a year’s worth of promises regarding the use independent evaluators, conceive an adjudication plan that was partial to C.J., force that plan upon me without warning or discussion, refuse to consider my counterproposal, refuse to conduct an adjudication hearing when I changed my mind, and wickedly devise The Three Panel Review in secret which was far more corrupt than the original Adjudication Procedure.  C.J., Dave, Tommy, and Chip Grange did not want a judgment or finding of “active or deliberate dishonesty.”  It would have made SGM liable for damages.  They knew it then and circumvented the possibility.     

That’s why The Three Panel Review in December 2011 dealt with three carefully crafted questions designed by the interim Board and lawyers that were extremely limited in scope.  The questions were designed to vindicate C.J. and protect him, others and SGM from a lawsuit. 

If I had the opportunity to make my case before a Church Court it would be very easy to prove that C.J., Dave, the interim Board and others acted in bad faith and were actively and deliberately dishonest.  There are hundreds of examples.  The threshold of proof required for damages is much lower per the bylaws above (e.g. prove dishonesty).  The burden of proof required for damages in a Civil Court is much higher.  That is one of the reasons why the new Board of Directors rejected my request to convene a Church Court.  See My Appeal to the SGM Pastors for a Church Court in Order to Avoid a Civil Court.  They knew C.J. and others would be found guilty.  Damages would be forthcoming.

Right up until I sent out The Documents on July 6, 2011, C.J. considered them extremely helpful.  Immediately after I sent them out to the SGM Pastors, he and the interim Board considered them damnable.  But that is beside the point.  Here is what C.J. said about their worth and value.

From: C.J. Mahaney 
Sent: Tuesday, October 26, 2010 12:35 PM
To: Brent Detwiler
Subject: [Much Benefit]

Brent, let me conclude by thanking you for sending me these documents.[1]  I am deriving much benefit from reading them and reviewing them with others.  As I read them by God’s grace I am perceiving more of my sin, more clearly.

 

From: Brent Detwiler  
Sent: Thursday, October 28, 2010 8:09 AM
To: C.J. Mahaney
Subject: Overlooking Statements

Thanks for your note C.J. and willingness to review my documents with others…I’m glad to hear you’re finding the documents of some benefit.  Grace to you as you continue to seek the Lord…    

 

From: C.J. Mahaney
Sent: Wednesday, Novmber 03, 2010 12:18 PM
To: Brent Detwiler
Subject: FW: Overlooking Statements 

Brent,

Thanks for your gracious response.  I’m not finding the documents to be of some benefit, I’m finding them to be of significant benefit.

 

From: C.J. Mahaney
Sent: Saturday, June 25, 2011 1:58 PM
To: Brent Detwiler
Subject: Confidential 

Brent,

I was reluctant to send this but decided to do so.  I am not trying to impress you or convince you about what I am perceiving in my heart.  But since I began to reengage with your documents[2] a couple of days ago and with the help of others I have already perceived a couple of areas of sin I didn’t clearly perceive previously.  It’s discouraging how slow and dull and blind I can be.  My pride/self-righteousness are no doubt the root cause.  Pathetic really.

Just wanted to inform you of the small incremental stuff that seems to be happening.  My hope is that it continues.

Thanks for your patience and care my friend.  Please keep praying for me.

With my gratefulness,

C.J.

##

A friend wrote me the following note.

From: [Friend]
Sent: Thursday, April 19, 2012 8:17 PM
To: Brent Detwiler
Subject: [Big Thanks]

Real quick comment.  C.J. missed another opportunity to be magnanimous in his Commitments section [in Response to AoR Report from C.J. Mahaney and SGM Board of Directors].  He could have looked really humble if he had, despite his disagreements with the blogs and you, to at least acknowledge that if it weren’t for you these “deficiencies” would have not been addressed in a serious way.  SGM owes you a big thanks

Well, I like money more than thanks (just joking) so I’ve decided to forego a lawsuit and send C.J. an invoice for services rendered.  I could charge the Ted Kober rate of $150.00 per hour for 2½ years of work but I’ve decided to use another method.

The “Report to the Board of Directors of Sovereign Grace Ministries” by Ted and Ed Keinath cost approximately $400,000.  It is comprised of 18,966 words.  That comes to $21.09 per word.  I’ve written 555,718 words that have brought “much benefit” and “significant benefit.”  So I figure what I’ve written is at least as valuable as what Ted and Ed wrote.  At $21.09 per word my invoice will be in the amount of 11.7 million.  If C.J. doesn’t pay, I’ll sue the pants off of him.

Of course, I’m kidding.  I have seriously thought about making my case in a Civil Court.  When I first began writing in 2010, C.J. was unwilling to acknowledge any faults in his life or in SGM.  Whatever changes have transpired for the good have come at a great price.  Please excuse my inclusion of this honest communication to the friend above who said C.J. owed me a “big thanks.”

From: Brent Detwiler
Sent: Thursday, April 19, 2012 9:08 PM
To: [Friend]
Subject: Re: [Big Thanks]

And all it took was the destruction of my livelihood, the ruination of our financial lives, the loss of all reputation, the anguish of betrayal, the cutting off of friends, the impoverishment of health, the banning from all SGM churches and excommunication from the Charlotte church I founded and built. 

The Holy Spirit warned me these kinds of things were coming on August 20, 2004 after confronting CJ.  They came with the call.  I am not regretful but it has required great suffering.  I am not resentful.  I did it because I love C.J. and SGM.  It is all part of following Christ.  I count it a joy.  You are one of the few to understand.  Thanks my friend.

##

I wrote My Appeal to the SGM Pastors for a Church Court in Order to Avoid a Civil Court.  I was serious about both options.  I received counsel from three different lawyers.  These two emails provide a good synopsis of their input.

From: [Lawyer]
Sent: Monday, April 23, 2012 10:18 PM
To: Brent Detwiler
Subject: Re: Lawsuit

I do know some extraordinarily good lawyers including a DC lawyer who I have worked with for 27 years in litigation and a local friend who is my go to on significant litigation.  The problem is legal fees can be breathtaking.  It would be very unlikely someone would work on a contingency.  Can you give me an idea of the theory of the case?

 

From: [Lawyer]
Sent: Thursday, April 26, 2012 9:29 PM
To: Brent Detwiler
Subject: Re: Lawsuit

If you would like I would be happy to [talk] about the legal approach.  I do have some caution based on a limited knowledge: few people are happy to have to take the legal path although I know if you don’t do something you may not have other remedy. 

Cost of course is an overwhelming factor: as mentioned earlier it is highly unlikely someone would take a case of this sort on a contingency and the fees would run into the 10s of thousands almost immediately with a six figure cost being a real possibility if not probability, especially dealing with top flight lawyers.

Finally, the law doesn’t really track harms based on injustice and there are many things in which the law doesn’t offer remedy.  In particular churches and religious organizations are given broad play in many areas to manage their own affairs and employee matters and may even have limited privilege in libel and slander.

I’m not saying rule things out before considering them but we should talk if you want.

##

A few comments based upon the counsel above.  First, lawyers typically take a case on contingency when it is clearly winnable and settlements amounts are large.  Second, it is harder to prove tortuous interference with contract; negligent and/or intentional infliction of emotional distress; defamation (which includes both libel and slander) and wrongful termination when dealing with churches due to the separation of Church and State.  Churches are “given broad play in many areas” and may have “limited privilege in libel and slander.” 

These crimes are far easier to prove in a court of law when they involve corporate America.  Before ever going to court, 1,500 pages of documentation like my own would get the attention of any Human Resource Department, Internal Affairs Department, or The Equal Opportunity Employment Commission.  Top flight lawyers would be interested in taking on my case if I were a Board of Director and the Chief Operating Officer for a Fortune 500 Company. 

On the other hand, the old, interim and new Board of Directors for Sovereign Grace Ministries are accountable to no one!  They don’t even have a grievance policy.  They have been able to lie, deceive, abuse with impunity and ignore the past.  Third, the expenses involved in pursuing a lawsuit would be “overwhelming” and “breathtaking.”  That makes such a pursuit an impossibility.

I fear for Sovereign Grace Ministries!  I desire the best for Sovereign Grace Ministries!  They will continue in their evil ways unless they are held accountable and suffer consequences for their actions.  That is why I looked into the possibility of a lawsuit.  I hoped to help them like any other law breaker.  Letting them off the hook with no radical reform in sight is destructive to their individual and collective well-being.  It is unloving!

But ultimately, discipline is in the hands of God the Father and he has sovereignly thwarted the many enablers that surround C.J. and SGM.  That will continue.  Our Lord Jesus does not need a lawsuit from me to work his will.  God of his own determining has resisted Sovereign Grace Ministries because we live in a moral universe of his making and keeping.  He is not mocked. 

Therefore, it is not hard to accept that Lord doesn’t want me investing my energies in a two year legal proceeding.  He must have other things in mind.  In the meantime, I’ll send C.J. my invoice for 11.7 million and await payment in full.


[1] Response Regarding Friendship and Doctrine and A Final Appeal.

[2] Response Regarding Friendship and Doctrine, A Final Appeal, and Concluding Remarks.

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