Google Review

Widerman Malek Appeals Team Secures Reversal and Remand of Dismissal

The appellate team of Scott Widerman, Eric Hostetler and Tiffany Ann Jones secured a reversal and remand at the Fifth District Court of Appeals on a case they have been litigating since 2017.

The case involves a dispute over the ownership of church property after a schism developed within the membership of the church, with the minority claiming title to the property pursuant to a deed.  Litigation began in late 2017 and after extensive discovery, many case briefings and hearings/oral argument, the trial court dismissed the action in January 2022, finding that the matters contested were barred by the application of the Ecclesiastical Abstention Doctrine.

An appeal was made to the Fifth District Court of Appeals and after all the briefs were submitted, the parties participated in oral argument before the Court. Scott Widerman argued on behalf of the Plaintiff. On November 4, 2022 the Fifth reversed the ruling of the trial court and remanded back to the trial court for further proceedings, finding on procedural grounds that dismissal was improper. The Court also questioned the application of the Ecclesiastical Abstention Doctrine in light of the type of church governance and the application of neutral principle of law.

The matter is now scheduled for trial in the fall.

The case is Trustee Corporation of the King Street Baptist Church, Inc. v. Northwest Baptist Church of Cocoa, Inc., et. al., Case No. 05-2017-CA-051569.