Shield The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth  
Sept. 20, 2013

Federal suits closed


Two suits brought against Bishop Iker in 2010 have been dismissed from federal court following the ruling issued Aug. 30 by the state Supreme Court.

The first suit, filed Sept. 21, 2010, was in the form of a complaint. In it, Episcopal Church parties alleged that Bishop Iker improperly continued to use the insignia (shield and name) of the Diocese after our Diocesan Convention voted in 2008 to dissociate from The Episcopal Church.

The second suit, brought by All Saints’ Episcopal Church on Crestline Road in Fort Worth, complained that Bishop Iker allowed members of the Diocese to form a congregation called “All Saints’.” It was filed in October 2010.

The Hon. Terry R. Means “administratively closed” the cases today, noting that they “may be reopened, without prejudice, upon the motion of either party, upon the resolution of the related state-court proceeding” [that is, the suit remanded to the 141st District Court].

Dec. 23, 2010
  Federal judge stays suit against Bishop Iker

On Monday, Dec. 20, Judge Terry R. Means issued an order staying all proceedings in the Federal lawsuit filed this past September against Bishop Iker. Judge Means will now consider the petition of the Diocese and Corporation to be admitted as intervenors in the suit, which claims Bishop Iker has improperly used the name and shield of the Diocese.

Click to read any of the following:

Judge Means' Dec. 20 Order
Bishop Iker's reply to the suit
The filing against Bishop Iker

A commentary on the judge's order is posted on the blog of the Anglican Curmudgeon.

The following news report concerning the order is from the Dec. 24 issue of the Church of England Newspaper:

Setback for American Church in legal ruling
By George Conger

THE EPISCOPAL Church suffered a setback this week in its Texas legal battle with the breakaway Diocese of Fort Worth after a US Federal judge stayed all proceedings in the trademark against Bishop Jack Iker, pending the Diocese's motion to intervene in the case.

On December 20, Judge Terry R. Means in Fort Worth issued a one-page order that "in the interests of judicial economy and fairness to all parties," the proceedings in the Episcopal Church's trademark infringement suit against Bishop Iker be stayed until the court ruled on the Diocese's request to intervene in the proceedings.

The decision affects only the third of the four lawsuits initiated by the national Episcopal Church and its surrogates against Bishop Iker and the majority faction of the Diocese of Fort Worth. On September 21, lawyers for Bishop C. Wallis Ohi, Jr. and the loyalist faction filed a complaint against Bishop Iker, saying his "unauthorised use of the Service Marks in his provision, advertising, and marketing of religious service and works is likely to cause confusion among the public seeking to participate in, benefit from, or support [the Diocese's] religious services and works."

In its press release, the loyalist faction stated unsuspecting members of the public might be duped into attending worship services conducted by clergy from the majority faction under the "mistaken belief the services they were attending were "provided by, sponsored by, or affiliated" with the minority faction loyal to the Episcopal Church.

Bishop Iker responded the lawsuit was "preposterous" and "vindictive" because the minority faction was "trying to get a different result in federal court from the state court ruling" in favour of the majority faction.

The first lawsuit initiated by the Episcopal Church was filed in Tarrant County, Texas in 2009, sought control of the assets of the Diocese of Fort Worth by claiming the minority faction loyal to the national Church was the true Diocese of Forth Worth. Bishop Iker countered the minority faction did not have the authority to bring the suit in the name of the Diocese. The trial court found in favour of Bishop Iker but declined to strike the national Church's lawsuit.

Bishop Iker asked the Fort Worth Court of Appeal to review the trial judge's decision not to strike the pleadings. The appeals court backed Bishop Iker and ordered the trial court to strike all the pleadings filed by attorneys for the minority faction who claimed to represent the Diocese.

A second lawsuit was then initiated by the national Church in Hood County, Texas, seeking control of diocesan assets in that county, and was prosecuted in the name of the Diocese of Fort Worth. The Hood County court stayed proceedings in that case pending the outcome of the first lawsuit.

On September 21, the minority faction filed its third lawsuit against Bishop Iker, and on October 18 a fourth lawsuit was brought by a loyalist congregation against the bishop, asserting trademark violations.

Legal commentator Allan Haley, who served as one of the attorneys for the breakaway Diocese of San Joaquin in its battle with the national Church and its supporters in California, commented the December 20 decision by Judge Means showed the judge "grasped what ECUSA and its rump diocese were trying to do."

The national Church's strategy of doing an "end run around the State courts" has been "rebuffed," Mr Haley said."The courts have uniformly told ECUSA and its attorneys thus far: 'Not so fast. You cannot assume the very point at issue by pretending to be what you have not shown yourself to be ... you have not demonstrated how you are legitimately in charge of those entities. Until you do so, you cannot come into court pretending to be them from the outset'," he observed.