Court Dismisses For the Second Time Defamation Claims Against Jews for Jesus and May Impose Sanctions For Frivolous Lawsuit

Apr 5, 2005

 State Circuit Court Judge Catherine Brunson again dismissed claims filed against Jews for Jesus that arose out of a praise report in a Jews for Jesus newsletter. Portions of the case were dismissed in May 2004 "with prejudice" (meaning that these claims cannot be refiled) and portions were dismissed "without prejudice" (meaning they did not state a cause of action but the Plaintiff is given another chance to redraft the claim). As a result, the Plaintiffs refiled the claims which were dismissed without prejudice. The judge, once again, dismissed the refiled claims against Jews for Jesus and indicated that the Plaintiff's actions may be subject to sanctions. Liberty Counsel will soon file a motion for attorney's fees in the case. Jews for Jesus is represented by Mathew D. Staver, President and General Counsel for Liberty Counsel, and Erik Stanley, Chief Counsel.

In July 2002, Jews for Jesus sent out a newsletter to its supporters and friends. In the newsletter, Bruce Rapp, an employee of Jews for Jesus, included a "Praise Report." The report was about a visit with his father and stepmother before his father died. Bruce stated in the Praise Report that, "Edie (his stepmother) began to ask me questions about Jesus". When I asked her if she would like to ask God for forgiveness for her sins and receive Y'shua she said yes! My stepmother repeated the sinner"s prayer with me - praise God!" The newsletter also contained a prayer request that urged prayer for "grace and strength for new Jewish believer Edie and salvation for her husband, Marty."

On December 11, 2003, following the death and funeral of Marty Rapp, Edith Rapp filed a lawsuit against Jews for Jesus. In the lawsuit, she claimed that Jews for Jesus defamed her by claiming she was a "Jewish believer." The state court dismissed some of the claims with prejudice and some without prejudice. After refiling the counts dismissed without prejudice, Liberty Counsel filed another motion to dismiss. The court has now dismissed those claims with prejudice and has reserved jurisdiction to consider imposing sanctions against the Plaintiff. Despite this warning, the Plaintiff has already filed another lawsuit against Jews for Jesus. Liberty Counsel will soon be filing a motion for sanctions and another motion to dismiss the third lawsuit just filed.

Staver commented: "The lawsuit is an attack against Jews for Jesus as a Christian organization because of its outreach to Jewish individuals. This is the second time the judge has dismissed these frivolous claims. This lawsuit, which even sought an injunction against Jews for Jesus' witnessing activities, was based on prejudice against Jews for Jesus and an unwarranted animosity against their beliefs." Staver continued, "The law should not give a voice to prejudice, whether it is racial, or, as in this case, religious prejudice."