Friday, August 22, 2014

Federal Agencies Act To Expand Exemptions To Contraceptive Madate For Religious Objectors

Federal agencies today issued two relases on changes to the contraceptive coverage mandate under the Affordable Care Act.  The first Release adopts interim final rules for non-profit religious charities and educational instituitons that have objections to providing contraceptive coverage. The changes react to the order the Supreme Court issued in the Wheaton College:
These interim final regulations amend the Departments’ July 2013 final regulations to provide an alternative process for the sponsor of a group health plan or an institution of higher education to provide notice of its religious objection to coverage of all or a subset of contraceptive services, as an alternative to the EBSA Form 700 method of self-certification. These interim final regulations continue to allow eligible organizations to use EBSA Form 700....
The alternative process ... is consistent with the Wheaton order. It provides that an eligible organization may notify HHS in writing of its religious objection to coverage of all or a subset of contraceptive services. The notice must include the name of the eligible organization and the basis on which it qualifies for an accommodation; its objection based on sincerely held religious beliefs to providing coverage of some or all contraceptive services (including an identification of the subset of contraceptive services to which coverage the eligible organization objects, if applicable); the plan name and type ...  and the name and contact information for any of the plan’s third party administrators and health insurance issuers.....
When an eligible organization that establishes or maintains or arranges a self-insured plan subject to ERISA provides such a notice to HHS, DOL (working with HHS) will send a separate notification to each third party administrator of the ERISA plan. DOL’s notification will inform each third party administrator of the eligible organization’s religious objection to funding or administering some or all contraceptive coverage and will designate the relevant third party administrator(s) as plan administrator under section 3(16) of ERISA for those contraceptive benefits that the third party administrator would otherwise manage. The DOL notification will be an instrument under which the plan is operated and shall supersede any earlier designation....
If an eligible organization that establishes or maintains an insured health plan provides a notice to HHS under this alternative process, HHS will send a separate notification to the plan’s health insurance issuer(s) informing the issuer(s) that HHS has received a notice under §2590.715-2713A(c)(1) and describing the obligations of the issuer(s) under § 2590.715-2713A. Issuers remain responsible for compliance with the statutory and regulatory requirement to provide coverage for contraceptive services to participants and beneficiaries, and to enrollees and dependents of student health plans, notwithstanding that the policyholder is an eligible organization with a religious objection to contraceptive coverage that will not have to contract, arrange, pay, or refer for such coverage. 
The second Release propses amendments as to for-profit entities with religious objections, responding to the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision.  As summarized in the Release:
In light of the Court’s decision in Hobby Lobby, the Departments propose to amend the definition of an eligible organization under the July 2013 final regulations to include a closely held for-profit entity that has a religious objection to providing coverage for some or all of the contraceptive services otherwise required to be covered. Under these proposed rules, a qualifying closely held for-profit entity that has a religious objection to providing coverage for some or all of the contraceptive services otherwise required to be covered would not be required to contract, arrange, pay or refer for contraceptive coverage; instead, payments for contraceptive services provided to participants and beneficiaries in the eligible organization’s plan would be provided separately by an issuer ...  or arranged separately by a third party administrator ....
In considering inclusion of certain closely held for-profit entities ..., the Departments are considering and seek comment on how to define a qualifying closely held for-profit entity.... [T]he Departments are proposing for comment two possible approaches to defining a qualifying closely held for-profit entity.... Under the first proposed approach, a qualifying closely held for-profit entity would be an entity where none of the ownership interests in the entity is publicly traded and where the entity has fewer than a specified number of shareholders or owners...... Under a second, altertnative approach, a qualifying closely held entituy would be a for-profit entity in which a specified fraction of the ownership interest is concentrated in a limited and specified number of owners.

Summary Contempt Finding For Wearing Religious Head Covering Reversed

Without reaching the free exercise issue, in State of New Jersey v, Graham, (NJ App., Aug. 12, 2014), the New Jersey Superior Court Appellate Division held that a municipal court judge acted improperly in summarily holding a defendant facing a disorderly persons charge in contempt.  As explained by an ACLU press release:
When Matthew Graham went before Egg Harbor City Municipal Judge William Cappuccio in Oct. 2013, the judge held Graham in contempt for not removing his hat, despite Graham’s explanation that he wore it for religious purposes. When Judge Cappuccio stated that he knew of no religion that required the wearing of a “ski cap,” Graham attempted to explain that he lacked the funds to travel to the store where he could purchase a more traditional religious cap.
On apppeal (after a battle over indigency status of the defendant), the appeals court in a brief order said:
We do not beleive that wearing of what the municipal judge called a "ski cap" during the proceeding, compelled invocation of the extraordinary judicial contempt powers to summarily adjudicate a defendant's conduct. A contempt proceeding on notice and an order to show cause was available to deal effectively with defendant's conduct, if warranted.
The ACLU's brief discusses the 1st Amendment issues involved.

Trial Court Strikes Down North Carolina School Voucher Program

In North Carolina yesterday, a state trial court judge struck down on state constitutional grounds North Carolina's Opportunity Scholarship program. As reported by Reuters, Judge Robert Hobgood ruled that the voucher program diverts funds which can constitutionally be used only for public schools. Also some of the funding is going to schools that discriminate on the basis of religion. A 22-minute video of the judge reading his ruling is available online.  The written opinion does not appear to yet be available.  Supporters of the program as well as the state's Attorney General plan to appeal.  Previously the state had attempted to speed up awards of scholarship funds under the program to beat Judge Hobgood's decision. (See prior posting.) However, according to the Raleigh News & Observer:
The state agency in charge of administering the program had tried to disburse the first round of funds last week, but a technical glitch prevented the payments from going through, said Elizabeth McDuffie, director of grants, training and research at the agency.
The process was launched again starting on Monday with the goal of getting funds at the private schools by the end of this week.
When Hobgood ruled Thursday morning, the disbursement was halted. “No money has left the building,” McDuffie said.

Dispute Over Suspension of Methodist Bishop Dismissed As Ecclesiastical Dispute

In Clark v. Moore, (SC Sup. Ct., Aug. 20 2014), the South Carolina Supreme Court in an unpublished (i.e. non-precedential) decision dismissed a suit growing out of a dispute between the Bishop of the Reformed Methodist Union Episcopal Church (RMUE) and the Church's General Officers.  The General Officers suspended Moore as bishop after finding that he had stolen Church funds.  Bishop Moore disputed their authority, removed the General Officers and cancelled the election for bishop that had been scheduled.  The Court dismissed the suit because it is "an ongoing ecclesiastical dispute which cannot be resolved by neutral principles of law."  Chief Justice Tole filed a concurring opinion urging that the case be remanded to the lower court for further factual findings on which party is the highest decision-making body of the RMUE so that the Court could then defer to its decision.

Settlement In Black Mass Lawsuit, But Event Will Go On Using Black Bread

Apparently there has been a settlement of sorts in the lawsuit filed two days ago by the Archbishop of Oklahoma City to obtain return of communion wafers that a Satanic group was going to use in a "Black Mass." (See prior posting.) According to VICE News yesterday, after the court quicly issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting defendant Adam Daniels or anyone under his control from concealing, damaging or destroying the wafers or removing them from the county, Daniels gave the wafers to his lawyer and then agreed to hand them over to the Archdiocese in exchange for the suit being dropped. Daniels said that he had obtained the wafers from a priest in Turkey. Daniels plans to go ahead with the Sept. 21 Black Mass, but will now use the traditional coarse black bread used in Satanic rituals.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

5th Circuit: Interior's Eagle Feather Rules Violate RFRA

In McAllen Grace Brethren Church v. Salazar, (5th Cir., Aug. 20, 2014), the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals held that the Department of Interior had not sufficiently shown that its policy of limiting permits for the possession of eagle feathers to members of federally recognized tribes meets the strict scrutiny requiremnts of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The regulations were adopted in order to enforce the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. At isssue was the use of eagle feathers at a powwow by a member of the Lipan Apaches which is not a federally recognized tribe. The court concluded that even if the government has a compelling interest in protecting eagles and furthering its relationship with federally recognized tribes, "the Department has not sufficiently demonstrated at this stage of the proceedings that the current regulatory framework is the least restrictive means of achieving its goals." Reuters reports on the decision.

A Note To Religion Clause Readers

A Note to Religion Clause Reders:

The corollary to this famous New Yorker cartoon by Peter Steiner is that on the Internet nobody knows where you are located either.  So I wanted to let readers know that this week I am moving from Atlanta to the Detroit, Michigan area.  I know there are a number of Religion Clause readers in Michigan, and I look forward to perhaps our crossing paths as I emigrate back North.  In the meantime, blogging on Religion Clause over the next week is likely to be spotty.  Other than that, the blog will continue to look the same.-- HMF

Pennsylvania Diocese Gets Permanent Injunction Against ACA Contraceptive Mandate

In Brandt v. Burwell, (WD PA, Aug. 20, 2014), a Pennsylvania federal district court issued a permanent injunction under RFRA against requiring the Diocese of Greensburg, Pennsylvania and affiliated organizations to comply with the  compromise rules under the Affordable Care Act contraceptive coverage mandate.  In its 53-page opinion, the court said in part:
Here, the issue is whether Plaintiffs, being non-secular in nature, have successfully proven that their right to freely exercise their religion under RFRA has been substantially burdened by the “accommodation,” which requires the Bishop of Greensburg (or his designees) to sign a form (EBSA Form 700) that thereby facilitates/initiates the provision of contraceptive products, services, and counseling. Based upon the evidence of record as set forth in the Court’s factual findings, this Court concludes that the accommodation substantially burdens Plaintiffs’right to freely exercise their religion.
Trib Total Meida reports on the decision. The court had previously issued a preliminary injunction in the case. (See prior posting.)

Archbishop's Suit Seeks Return of Consecrated Host Taken By Organizers Of Black Mass

The Catholic Archbishop of Oklahoma City filed an unusual lawsuit yesterday in an effort to stop a satanic "Black Mass" ritual scheduled to be held at the Oklahoma City Civic Center on Sept. 21. The complaint (full text) in Coakley v. Daniels, (OK County Dist. Ct., filed 8/20/2014), seeks replevin (recovery of possession) of a Consecrated Host that was wrongfully retained by defendants Adam Daniels and his church, Dakhma of Angra Mainyu Syndicate, for use in their planned Black Mass ceremony. According to the complaint, the Consecrated Host is a wafer "that has undergone the transubstantiation and is now the body and blood of Jesus Christ."  Defendants, it is contended, intend to desecrate the host during the ceremony by corrupting it with sexual fluids and stomping on it. According to CNHI News Service, as well as a statement from the Archbishop, both Catholics and Protestants have criticized the planned mockery of Catholic beliefs and have called for the Civic Center to cancel the event.

EEOC Sues Over Food Market's Refusal To Accommodate Jehovah's Witness

The EEOC yesterday announced the filing of a lawsuit against the supermarket chain Food Lion for its refusal to accommodate the religious needs of a Jehovah's Witness minister and elder employed as a meat cutter in one of the food chain's North Carolina stores.  The company originally agreed to accommodate Victaurius Bailey's request not to work on Thursday nights or Sundays so that he could attend church services and religious meetings. However when Bailey was transfered to a different store, he was fired for refusing to work on Sundays.

Supreme Court Issues Stay In Virginia Same-Sex Marriage Case

Yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court issued an order (full text) in McQuigg v. Bostic, staying the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals order that invalidated Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage. (See prior posting.)  The order delays the 4th Circuit's mandate until a petition for Supreme Court review is disposed of.  SCOTUS Blog reports on the stay..

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

9th Circuit: State Can Require Care Workers To Accompany Disabled Clients To Religious Services

In Williams v. State of California, (9th Cir., Aug. 19, 2014), the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals adopted the district court's opinion in concluding that the rights of two residential care facilities and their employees were not infringed when, under state law, employees were required to personally accompany a developmentally disabled client to attend Jehovah’s Witness services. The court rejected the argument that this infringed free exercise rights and the establishment clause by requiring Catholic employees to violate their religious beliefs by attending non-Catholic religious services. Courthouse News Service reports on the decision.

Amish Lose In Suit Forcing Them To Obtain Building Permits

WQOW reported yesterday that an Eau Claire County, Wisconsin trial judge has ruled in two of the six pending cases against Old Order Amish families, requiring them to obtain building and sanitary permits for their houses. If the families do not apply for the permits within 30 days, they will be required to leave their houses. In oder to otain the permits, the Amish would have to install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, but their religious beliefs do not allow them to own electronic devices or plug into the public grid.

India's Former Prime Minister Immune In U.S. Courts As To Some Charges Of Participation In Killing of Sikhs

In Sikhs For Justice v. Singh,(D DC, Aug. 19, 2014), the D.C. federal district court dismissed on immunity grounds most, but not all of the claims against India's former Prime Minister for his role in the torture and killing of Indian Sikhs. The court summaried its decision:
Defendant Manmohan Singh was, until very recently, the Prime Minister of India. Plaintiffs ... have brought this suit alleging that the former Prime Minister tortured and killed Indian Sikhs during his time at the helm of that country’s government and, before then, as Finance Minister. The United States, a non-party in this litigation, has filed a Suggestion of Immunity claiming that Singh, as the sitting Prime Minister, is entitled to head-of-state immunity. Although at the time of that filing, Singh was indeed Prime Minister, he left office three weeks later. Plaintiffs, consequently, counter that Singh is no longer entitled to such immunity. They are only partly correct. Although he is no longer a head of state, Singh is entitled to residual immunity for acts taken in his official capacity as Prime Minister. Because such residual immunity does not cover actions Singh pursued before taking office, however, the allegations stemming from his time as Finance Minister survive.
Reuters reports on the decision and has more on the substantive allegations in the case.

Court Reverses Divorce Order Barring Father From Disparaging Mother's Catholic Religion

In Pierson v. Pierson, (FL App., Aug. 18, 2014), a Florida appellate court reversed the portion of a trial court's order which, in granting a dissolution of a marriage, prohibited the father "from doing anything in front of ... or around the children that disparages or conflicts with the Catholic religion." During the marriage the three children had been raised in the mother's Catholic faith, but while the parties were separated the father became a Jehovah's Witness. One of the children, during a third-grade Catholic Sunday school class, told the teacher and students that their Bible and music were wrong, their priests were bad, and he was going to grow up to be a Jehovah's Witness minister.  The appeals court concluded, however, that "the evidence did not establish the harm necessary to award the mother ultimate religious decision-making authority...."

Interlocutory Bankruptcy Court Order On Recovering Donations To Church Not Appealable

In re Nichols, (D MD, Aug. 15, 2014), is an action by the trustee for the bankruptcy estate of Lynette Tawana Nichols seeking to recover from God's Universal Kingdom Christian Church over $93,000 in contributions the church received from Nichols in the three years preceding her filing for bankruptcy. Nichols was president of the church, and the contributions greatly exceeded those she made in prior years.  The trustee claimed these were fraudulent conveyances that could be recovered for the benefit of Nichols' creditors.  The church argued that the claim was barred by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, but the bankruptcy court issued an interlocutory order refusing to dismiss the trustee's claim.  It cited the subsequently enacted Religious Liberty and Charitable Donations Act of 1998 (RLCDA) that validates in bankruptcy good faith contributions under 15% of gross income or larger contribtuions that are similar to those a debtor made in past years.  The bankruptcy court concluded that, subject to those protections, the trustee's claim could proceed.

The present opinion involves a motion by the church to appeal the bankruptcy court's interlocutory order to the district court.  However appeal of a bankruptcy court's interlocutory order-- as opposed to an appeal once a final judgment is entered-- is available only if there is a difference of opinion among courts on a controlling issue of law.  The district court concluded that there is no controversy among courts because there is no case law indicating that application of the RLCDA violates RFRA.  Thus an immeidate appeal of the interlocutory order is not appropriate.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Canadian "Pastafarian" Sues To Wear Pirate Bandana For License Photo

CJAD News today reports on a lawsuit in Canada in which a woman who says she is a member of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is seeking the right to wear a pirate bandana for her driver's license photo.  Isabelle Narayana, a "Pastafarian," is suing the Quebec Auto Insurance Board claiming that its denial infringes her religious freedom in violation of Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms.The Montreal resident's license expired in March and she may lose her job if she cannot renew it.

Sides View Navy's Policy On Gideon Bibles In Starkly Contrasting Terms

Since June, a dispute has been simmering over the practice by some hotels on Naval Bases of accepting Gideon Bibles for placement in Navy Lodge guest rooms.  It is interesting to compare reports by the two sides on developments. Here are excerpts from an Aug. 15 release by Freedom From Religion Foundation:
The Navy Exchange Service Command (NEXCOM) issued a quiet directive on June 19 in response to a complaint by FFRF, ordering removal of religious material from Navy-run lodges by Sept. 1.....
Yesterday (Aug. 14), it was reported that the Navy had temporarily caved and ordered the return of the bibles to hotel rooms while it reviewed its policy. Theocrats are loudly declaring victory in an effort to silence the objections of the nonreligious. 
The Religious Right has orchestrated a media frenzy to intimidate the Navy into maintaining its illegal policy of providing bibles in all Navy-run hotel rooms. FFRF needs your help now to give the Navy some backbone. The Navy needs to hear from the one in five who are nonreligious and those who honor the constitutional wall of separation between state and church.
And here are excerpts from an Aug. 15 report on the same situation from Fox News:
A Navy spokesman confirms that Bibles will be returned to base lodges, and they’ve also launched an investigation to determine why God’s Word was removed from guest rooms in the first place.
Navy Exchange, which runs the base lodges, sent a directive out in June ordering the Bibles removed, after the Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a complaint. The atheist group alleged the books were a violation of the U.S. Constitution....
Navy spokesman Ryan Perry said the decision was made without their knowledge.... During the review process, Perry said the “religious materials” that were removed will be returned.
The Bibles had been donated to the Navy by Gideons International... Tim Wildmon, of the American Family Association ... [said]: “We must be alert to what the secularists are doing inside the military.... But this reversal proves that those who believe in religious freedom can make a difference when we take action.”

Group Issues Election Guides Designed To Respect Diversity and Church-State Separation

Interfaith Alliance yesterday announced the release of 3 publications for the 2014 election season, each designed to respect religious diversity and church-state constratints.  The publications, aimed at candidates, houses of worship and voters, are: Running for Office in A Multifaith Nation;  A Campaign Season Guide for Houses of Worship; and Five Questions for Candidates on the Role of Religion in American Public Life. Interfaith Alliance also announced a website that can be used by members of the public to report candidates' abuse of religion on the campaign trail. The site allows individuals to "Submit An Eye On The Election Report."

Monday, August 18, 2014

Groups Ask White House To End Anti-Muslim Training Material In Federal Agencies

Last week, a coalition of 75 religious and civil rights groups sent a letter (full text) to the White House asking it to " to take immediate action to end the use of anti-Muslim training materials and address anti-Muslim conduct exhibited by agencies throughout the federal government."  The Aug. 14 letter to Lisa Monaco, President Obama's advisor on homeland security and counterterrorism, cites especially the findings in a  July 9, 2014 article in The Intercept.

Recent Articles of Interest

From SSRN:

From SmartCILP:

Religious Non-Profit College Wins Attack on Contraceptive Mandate Compromise

In Louisiana College v. Sebelius, (WD LA, Aug. 13, 2014), a Louisiana federal district court granted summary judgment to Louisiana College on its claim that its rights under RFRA are infringed by the Affordable Care Act contraceptive coverage accommodation for religious non-profits.  The college is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, and offers it employees a self-insured plan through a third party administrator that is also an SBC affiliate.  The court held that the requirement that plaintiff self-certify its objections, or else incur onerous penalties, creates a substantial burden on its free exercise because of its religious objections to facilitating access to contraceptive methods it deem abortifacients. The government failed to show that the compromise was the least restrictive means to achieve a compelling governmental interest. The Shreveport Times reports on the decision.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Recent Prisoner Free Exercise Cases

In Haight v. Thompson, (6th Cir., Aug. 15, 2014), the 6th Circuit remanded, finding triable issues of fact, claims by Native American inmates that they should have access to a sweat lodge, and should have buffalo meat at their once a year powwow. The 6th Circuit held, however, that money damages are not recoverable under RLUIPA in suits against officials in their individual capaicites. (AP has more on the decision.)

In Williams v. King, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 110757 (SD NY, Aug. 11, 2014), a New York federal district court allowed a Shiite Muslim inmate to proceed with some of his free exercise and equal protection claims alleging that the penal facility's Muslim chaplain, a Sunni, discriminated agiast Shiites by allowing Muslim inmates to pray and fast only for the last two days of Muharram (the Sunni custom) rather than for the full ten days (the Sunni custom).

In Howard v. Webster, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 111301 (ED WI, Aug. 12, 2014), a Wisconsin federal magistrate judge permitted a Buddhist inmate to proceed with his complaint that Christianity was promoted in various ways in the prison: a painting of Jesus in the library, religious messages in hygiene bags, and Christian music piped through a TV channel. He also could move ahead with a complaint that he was not allowed to possess a necklace with an emblem of Buddha.

In Jones v. Nevin, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 111576 (D NV, Aug. 11, 2014), a Nevada federal district court dismissed a Jewish inmate's complaint that he did not have access to kosher meals and, instead, had only the common fare menu thast is so distasteful as to discourage inmates from practicing Judaism.

In Diaz v. Kessler, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 112357 (ND CA, Aug. 12, 2014), a California federal district court permitted an inmate to proceed with his claim that his Jewish religious service was terminated on one occassion in retaliation for his objections to the way other complaints were handled.

In Wortham v. Lantz, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 112487 (D CT, Aut. 13, 2014), a Connecticut federal district court dismissed a Hebrew Isrelite inmate's complaints that the common fare vegetarian diet did not satisfy his religious needs because it did not include kosher meat, as well as his complaints about not being able to purchase oils from outside vendors or purchase various other religious items.

In Harvey v. Segura, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 112877 (D CO, Aug. 14, 2014), a Colorado federal district court dismissed on qualified immunity grounds a Muslim inmate's religious objections to a strip search by a female officer, but permitted plaintiff to move ahead with his challenge to the confiscation of his kufi and his claim for punitive damages.

In Depaola v. Virginia Department of Corrections, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 112585 (WD VA, Aug. 12, 2014), a Virginia federal district court dismissed a Nation of Islam inmate's complaint that the prison's common fare diet does not meet his religious dietary needs.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

2nd Circuit: NYC Ritual Circumcision Informed Consent Rule Is Subject To Strict Scrutiny Analysis

In Central Rabbinical Congress of the United States & Canada v. New York City Department of Health & Mental Hygiene, (2d Cir., Aug. 15, 2014), the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the district court's denial of a preliminary injunction against New York City's informed consent regulations governing metzitzah b’peh, a method of ritual circumcision used by some Orthodox Jewish mohels. (See prior posting.) The regulation, concerned about the possible spread of herpes, requires signed written consent from a parent before direct oral suction may be used in any circumcision. The Second Circuit disagreed with the district court's conclusion that the regulation is neutral and generally applicable and is thus subject only to rational basis scrutiny. The appellate court remanded for the district court to now rule on the likelihood of success on the merits using strict scrutiny, but added:
Acknowledging the weighty interests at stake in this litigation (the plaintiffs’ in the free exercise of their faith and the Department’s in the health of newborns and in informed parental consent concerning risks these newborns face), we express no view as to whether plaintiffs have satisfied this [strict scrutiny] standard, believing that careful adjudication will benefit in the first instance from the district court’s comprehensive analysis.
Reuters reports on the decision.

Appeals Court Reverses Dismissal of Negligence Suit Against Hospital Chaplain

In Lefkowitz v. Skokie Hospital, (IL App., July 25, 2014), an Illinois appellate court reversed a trial court's dismissal of a suit by an Orthodox Jewish man, Moshe Lefkowitz, who alleges that Skokie Hospital's Jewish chaplain was negligent in failing to prevent his amputated leg from being incinerated. Orthodox Jewish beliefs require amputated body parts to be  preserved or buried so that they can eventually be buried with the individual from whom they came. The appeals court said that there was a question of whether the forms Lefkowitz signed consenting to the hospital's disposal of his amputated leg were effective since Lefkowitz was blind and did not read them. The Chicago Tribune, in an article appearing in tomorrow's edition, discusses the case and also points out that Lefkowitz is a defendant in an unrelated criminal case charging him, his father (a rabbi), and his brother with stealing $10,000 in donations from a North Shore synagogue.

Church Sues JPMorgan For $13 Million In Losses From Bad Trust Investments

This week, Christ Church, an Episcopal Church in Indianapolis, Indiana, filed suit against JP Morgan Chase alleging mishandling of the church's $35 million trust whose assets came originally from gifts from Eli Lilly, Jr. The complaint (full text) in Rector, Wardens and Vestrymen of Christ Church Cathedral of Indianapolis v. JPMorgan Chase & Co., (SD IN, filed 8/13/2014), alleges that securities law violations, fraud and breach of trust led to losses of $13 million from 2004-2013.  It claims that defendants selected "high-risk, high-cost, opaque, unsuitable and poorly performing investments in order to further their own financial interests to the detriment of Christ Church." BNA Daily Report for Executives [subscription required] reports on the lawsuit.