Attorneys for the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, the Corporation of the Diocese of Fort Worth, and the Episcopal Church have filed a response to the motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction filed on May 8, 2009 by attorneys for former bishop Jack L. Iker and former members of the corporation’s board.
The motion to dismiss was a response to the suit filed in the 141st District Court of Tarrant County, Texas, on April 14, 2009, by the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, the Corporation of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth and the Episcopal Church in part to recover property and assets of the Episcopal Church. The defendants are former members of the corporation’s board and the former bishop of the diocese, all of whom have left the Episcopal Church and its Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth but continue to control some Episcopal Church assets.
The response points out that:
- Federal and state courts across the United States have routinely exercised jurisdiction over cases like this – cases that the Episcopal Church has won.
- Opinions from Texas courts dealing with other church property disputes are consistent with those cases.
- The case is a property dispute, not a doctrinal dispute, and the court has jurisdiction to rule on the issues raised by the Episcopal Church entities.
- The Episcopal Church is demonstrably a hierarchical church.
The response cites numerous cases in support and requests that the court deny the motion to dismiss.